The Advertising Regulatory Board has ruled that Fair Cape Dairies ‘happy cows’ advertisement which claims dairy farming is “humane”, is misleading.

Fair Cape Dairies’ advertising slogan “#HappyCows” and the description of its dairy farming as “humane” have been ruled misleading by the Advertising Regulatory Board’s (ARB) appeal committee.

In a decision last week, the appeal committee found that the words “#HappyCows” and “humane” used by Fair Cape were in breach of clause 4.1 and 4.2.1 of the Code of Advertising Practice, which deals generally with the truthful presentation of advertising and prohibits misleading claims.

Fair Cape has been instructed to withdraw the words from its advertising. This follows a finding in September last year by the ARB directorate, in which it dismissed a series of complaints filed by consumers against Fair Cape and concluded “that within the context of dairy farming, the cows are as humanely treated and therefore as ‘happy’ as possible”.

But in the appeal committee’s ruling, they found that the directorate erred in holding that the advertising in question should be viewed through the lens of practices that are generally accepted in the commercial dairy industry.

“It may be that the reasonable consumer expects some compromise being made on the freedom of cows that are farmed so as to produce milk, but there is no evidence that such a consumer expects cows to be forcefully impregnated by human fists or arms, only so that they are able to produce milk; or that male and female babies are taken from their mothers at birth; or that the cows mourn the loss of their babies; or that it is the dairy industry that fuels the veal industry because baby male calves are slaughtered shortly after birth; or that dairy cows are eventually slaughtered,” the committee said.

“In our view, humane treatment means more than freedom from violence, pain and disease; it means treatment characterised by tenderness, compassion and sympathy. It does not include many of the practices complained of. It follows then, in our view, that the cows cannot be described as happy, or as humanely treated,” the committee found.

On behalf of the complainants, Joanne Fairbrother welcomed the committee’s decision.

“We would like to thank the ARB for their commitment to fairness and transparency during the course of our complaint and appeal. We would like to thank Animal Law Reform SA for their assistance,” Fairbrother said.

Consumers cared about their food choices and about animals and for these reasons consumers were increasingly demanding transparency from these industries, she added.

Joel Serman, for Fair Cape Diaries, said: “We take note of the ruling of the appeal committee; however we respectfully disagree with this ruling. We are considering our options at this stage and in accordance with the ARB Procedural Guide, reserve our rights to appeal to the final appeal committee against the ruling. We will notify the ARB in due course on our planned course of action.”

Original source: https://www.iol.co.za