Swiss hold referendum on import ban on foie gras

Switzerland is bringing a number of agricultural and animal welfare laws and regulations more in line with EU rules. More Swiss farmers will soon be allowed to have cattle slaughtered on their own farms, instead of having them taken alive to a slaughterhouse. The criteria for food safety are also being expanded.

This brings the use of mobile slaughter companies into the picture for more Swiss livestock farmers. This has been permitted to a limited extent for several years, but for hygienic reasons (cooling!), slaughtered animals must be delivered to a slaughterhouse within 45 minutes.

Due to this limitation, the scheme has so far only been used by farmers in the immediate vicinity of a slaughterhouse. This delivery time has now been extended to an hour and a half so that more remote farms can also use it.

In addition, the rules for 'giving away food for free' are being relaxed, to the delight of the Swiss food banks. Switzerland generates approximately 2.8 million tons of food waste per year, equivalent to 330 kg per inhabitant. About eight percent of all Swiss food waste comes from wholesale and retail.

Until now, bakeries and supermarkets were not allowed to give away surplus food to charities due to food safety standards. This scheme will be expanded from February. This includes creating some leeway in terms of food safety requirements.

The Swiss parliament has also decided that there should be a national referendum on an import ban on (French) foie gras, probably later this year. At the end of last year, parliament rejected a motion to ban this import, after residents had requested it. Instead, it was decided that when foie gras was imported, the feeding method of the geese had to be explicitly labelled. 

The Swiss Animal Federation has now collected more than 100,000 signatures to propose a complete ban on the import of foie gras.