Guide to criteria for the Eat Out Woolworths Sustainability Award


The following words and terms are used in relation to the Eat Out Woolworths Sustainability Award.
The description of terms and methods of production (MOP) have been adapted by EATegrity in response to South African conditions and claims.

Guiding principles

More than any other form of human consumption, what we eat has the greatest impact on the planet. This is because all farming systems have interconnected impacts on environmental, economic and social indicators. Farming methods of production are a manipulation of nature, some to a lesser degree than others. We therefore encourage the sourcing of food from farms where transparent and documented practices ensure higher animal welfare, fair work standards for all labourers, and social justice.
Many production claims in South Africa have no legal definition or standards, and are vague and/or weak. Because definitions can refer to such a wide range of actual living conditions, ‘free-range’ in particular, the protocols to support all claims should be available on producers’ websites for consumers to access. Distributors also source from a variety of production methods, therefore traceability should be offered to their customers at all times.

Due to the lack of transparency in South Africa’s food system and the proliferation of inaccurate claims – and until such time that an accurate third-party assurance label exists in South Africa – consumers cannot take any method of production claims at face value. The below descriptions are therefore employed as a guide to inform consumers; they are not standards. Consultation with farmers, third-party certifiers and visiting farms is an ongoing process by EATegrity, so these guidelines are subject to updates.


It is wise to ask to view the standards of a third-party certifier or of the farm, and for chefs to visit the farms or suppliers to ensure that they have an accurate understanding of the claims being made – either by the producer or the distributor from which they procure.
The below could be practised within all Methods of Production (MOP) and are standard dependent and sometimes farm dependent:

• Mutilations performed without painkiller. This includes de-spurring, de-beaking, dehorning, disbudding, ear notching, castration and tail docking.
• Killing of male chicks alive in grinding machines.
• Suffering before death due to inadequate slaughtering processes (CO² gassing, etc.).
• Spent hens vulnerable to starvation as not sold to reputable dealers.
• Dairy male calves sold as veal.
• Dairy calves not permitted to remain with mother for longer than three days, sometimes removed at birth.
• Gin traps used as predator control.
• Regular use of antibiotics but not ‘routinely’ given.
• Feed containing growth stimulators.
• Unless organic or specified, grain-feed would probably be GMO.


It is important to clarify what the word ‘access’ really means – otherwise ‘access to light’, for example, is a meaningless and misleading statement.

A menu that is quickly and easily adjustable based on the availability of local produce within season.

The three facets of agro-ecology:
– it is a scientific research approach involving the holistic study of agro-ecosystems and food systems
– it is a set of principles and practices that enhances the resilience and sustainability of food and farming systems, while preserving social integrity
– it is a socio-political movement that focuses on the practical application of agro-ecology by seeking new ways of considering agriculture, processing, distribution and consumption of food, and its relationships with society and nature.

The School of Artisan Food in the UK describes artisan as “a term used to describe food produced by non-industrialised methods, often handed down through generations, but now in danger of being lost. Tastes and processes, such as fermentation, are allowed to develop slowly and naturally, rather than curtailed for mass-production. There is no single definition of artisan food. Artisan producers should understand and respect the raw materials with which they work, they should know where these materials come from and what is particularly good about them. They should have mastered the craft of their particular production and have a historical, experiential, intuitive and scientific understanding of what makes the process that they are engaged in successful. They should know what tastes good and be sensitive to the impact of their production on people and the environment.”

All products should be preservative and additive free and real ingredients should be used, not extracts.

Practices incorporate metaphysical aspects of farming, in addition to organic biological practices. It is a holistic food production method that ensures that a farm is self-sufficient.

– Barn-raised cows
Massive sheds house the cows. These sheds are claimed to have a special design to help funnel hot air out and keep the cows cool and dry. Cows have access to the under roof and outdoor sections, usually sand paddocks. Cows are milked three times a day and are always fed indoors in sheds. Feed can include grain. GMO status not disclosed. Dry cows may get to graze outdoors. Cows spend most of their time walking on concrete floors or standing on sand. Eco-friendly production claims are not verifiable and are mostly meaningless.

– Grass-fed (free-range) cows (See: Grass-fed cattle)
– Pasture-raised cows (See: Pasture-raised ruminants)
– Encouraged practices
Dairy calves should not be weaned from milk before they are 12 weeks of age.
Husbandry systems that allow young stock to remain in the herd with their mothers until weaning occurs naturally are recommended. Weaning means the removal of milk, not the separation of mother and calf.

The process of providing stimulating environments for captive animals in order to enhance their quality of life. Enrichment is encouraged for animals that are kept indoors continously or for long periods of time, particularly for pigs who are highly intelligent animals and require stimulation.

Fairtrade is an ethical certification, and its main aim is to promote more equality and sustainability in the farming sector. A product that carries the Fairtrade certification mark has met the rigorous Fairtrade standards, which focus on improving labour and living conditions for farming communities and on promoting a way of farming that doesn’t harm either people or the environment.

It is the aim of EATegrity that MOP claims are accurately marketed and labelled, allowing consumers to make an informed choice. It would therefore be in the best interest of the consumer if the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) would provide a description and accurate food labels of MOP for factory farms or concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

Food grown within 150km of its point of purchase or consumption.

Refrain from accepting ‘natural’ method of production claims, since all that means is that the animal was raised in a feedlot but without growth hormones and antibiotics added to their feed. As yet there are no verifiable standards for the claim ‘natural’ in South Africa.

One Health is a concept that became an approach and then a movement. Its aim is to improve health and wellbeing through the prevention of risks and the mitigation of effects of crises that originate at the interface between humans, animals and their various environments. Read more here.

Building long-term soil fertility is the kingpin of organic farming and gardening. The health of the soil is connected to the health of grass plants, animals and ultimately man.

Labelling food as ‘organic’ identifies products as deriving from a set of verified organic standards and a third-party certifiers label should signify this on the product. The Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) represents an alternative to third-party certification, as defined by IFOAM, are “locally focused quality assurance systems”.

In the case of organic products of animal origin, minimum standards are defined by specifications for the conversion process, housing conditions, animal nutrition, care and breeding, disease prevention, and veterinary treatment. Organic MOP and standards do not necessarily always have the highest animal welfare standards. Occasionally, animals are barn raised for their entire lives.

South Africa has no organic legislation, but the South African Organic Sector Organisation (SAOSO) has launched a set of organic standards.  It is still very important that consumers ask for the organic seal of approval. Third-party certifier standards also differ, so don’t assume all standards are equal. The EU Organic Standard is known to be basic, as most government standards are. Ask for verification of all organic claims and, if any derogations have been provided, particularly for producers in conversion.

Recommended for all production methods: No castration. No teeth clipping or tail docking. No sow or farrowing crates. No growth hormones or long-term antibiotics are used. Piglets must be of at least six weeks of age at weaning.

– Sow crates VS farrowing crates
A sow crate is used while the sow is pregnant so she is confined for her pregnancy. A farrowing crate is used while she is feeding her young prior to weaning. Which means that the majority of a sow’s life can be spent in a cage.

Note: Pork supplied to restaurants that comes from systems that still make use of farrowing crates is an elimination criteria for the Sustainability Award.

– Commercial free-range pork
There are variations to the production system on some farms (e.g. growers may be finished in shelters). Farrowing crates are still used for approximately five weeks during weaning, and growers are kept predominantly indoors with no enrichment.

Housing should be spacious enough to allow pigs to exercise their freedom to express normal behaviour. Feed and water is predominantly indoors with access to small outdoor paddocks, usually without vegetation cover. Food and water must be distributed in a way that eliminates competition.

Recommended: Enrichment should be provided to prevent boredom or aggression when housed indoors. No growth hormones or long-term antibiotics should be used. No teeth clipping or tail docking. No castration if pigs are slaughtered under 90kg. No sow crates or farrowing crates.

– Free-range pork
Free-range pigs are typically kept in distinct groups based on age, sex, size, and stage of pregnancy. The pig herd is rotated on outdoor enclosures or paddocks. They receive the majority of their nutritional needs from prepared feed, with pasture or forage as a supplementary feed. ‘Free-range’ implies that animals are not confined in enclosures, primarily fed outdoors and normally have free access to small paddocks, which are specially constructed. When pigs are at risk of heat stress, wallows or sprinklers – in combination with natural or artificial shade – must be provided. Piglets are weaned at approximately six weeks and are then confined to a weaner camp until they are relocated to camps where they are given access to grazing lands or paddocks. Weaners and growers must be housed in groups. No use of sow crates. (Unfortunately some productions in South Africa that claim free range and even pasture raised still make use of farrowing crates.)

–       Pasture-raised pork
‘Pasture-raised’ indicates that the animal was raised outdoors on pasture, and their feed is primarily from foraging (but supplemented with legumes, grain and/or prepared feed). The aim of good ranging and foraging area management is to satisfy the pig’s natural behaviours. Animals must be able to root and explore the ground and their natural environment. Any pasture enclosure area provided for pigs must offer separate dunging, feeding, wallowing and foraging areas. If piglets over the age of 10 days do not have free access to a ranging and foraging area, the area outside the housing, hut or pen must not be less than 4.5 square metres per sow and litter. The sow and litter must have free access to a ranging and foraging area once the piglets reach the age of 21 days.

– Barn-raised broilers, often labeled as free range
Broiler (meat) chickens have never traditionally been raised in cages due to their rapid growth. This means they are slaughtered young, usually at 32 days. There are variations to this production method. Some slaughter at 40 days. Some leave lights on till 10pm and birds are able to sleep until 6am in natural light. Birds predominantly remain in the barn but have access to outdoors through pop holes. Nest boxes or perches are generally not provided in the barn. Diet is largely based on commercial feeds, fed inside. Feed is never provided outdoors.

Recommended: Shade should be provided in outdoor area in the form of shade cloths, or birds are able to take shelter from heat under housing. Commercial breeds that are grown for rapid growth are discouraged. Birds who have undergone genetic selection to the point that their welfare is negatively affected should be prohibited. Birds should be chosen with consideration of their ability to thrive in the prevailing climatic conditions of the farm. At least two square feet of indoor floor space should be provided per bird. Feed containing growth accelerators should be prohibited. Antibiotic use should only be for sick animals and not administered routinely or ‘non-routinely’.

– The SA Poultry Code of Practice requires that the barn where the free-range chickens sleep provides at least 1m² of floor space for every 15 chickens. External shade, by way of either trees or artificial structures, must be provided at the rate of 4m² shade per 1 000 birds. SAPA guidelines for caged broiler production is 450cm per bird (size four weeks to slaughter). Cage height shall permit standing chickens’ free head movement. See SAPA’s code of practice here.

– More information on broilers
Genetic selection has resulted in high-yield broilers that can attain market weight in reduced time based on fast growth rates and improved feed conversion. However, rapid and accelerated growth has resulted in several health and welfare concerns. Of particular concern are diseases and anomalies of the skeletal and circulatory systems. Castration (caponizing) of chickens is prohibited. Birds must not be subjected to dim and/or continuous lighting or kept in permanent darkness. Growth hormones or the use of any other substances promoting weight gain are said to be prohibited, including the use of commercial feeds with these substances included. Birds must be caught individually and carried by both legs; one- legged catching is prohibited. GMO feed not specified.

– Barn-raised layers
The SA Poultry Code of Practice requires that the barn where the free-range chickens sleep provides at least one square metre of floor space for every 10 chickens. Thousands of layers can inhabit a barn with many of the layers never seeing the outdoors, although they have access through pop holes. Nest boxes or perches are generally not provided in the barn. Mutilations are performed without painkiller; debeaking may be permitted, along with killing of male chicks alive in grinding machines. Diet is largely based on commercial feeds, fed inside. See SAPA guidelines for caged layers with 300cm per bird.

– More information on egg layers
The majority of egg layers in South Africa are in cages. Many of the eggs labelled free range are in fact barn raised. There are minimum regulations provided by the South African Poultry Association giving vague instructions on how to raise free-range chickens; there is no definitive legislation regarding labelling. The South African Poultry Association recommends 10 birds per square metre indoors. In South Africa, the production of free range eggs is currently loosely regulated under the Agricultural Product Standards Act. Each hen should have at least 1.8 square feet of indoor floor space and must be able to nest, perch and dust bathe. Forced molting through starvation is prohibited. GMO feed not specified. Some larger egg producers are initiating spent-hen abattoirs for end products such as broths and gravies.

– Free-range poultry
Free-range flocks should be fed and watered outside. This encourages the birds to spend time outdoors and keeps the houses cleaner and drier. Birds must be provided continual access to an outdoor area for ranging and foraging – for a minimum of six hours per day – and are only to be housed indoors at night and during adverse weather. Feed containing meat, fishmeal or animal by-products is prohibited, but foraging for grubs and bugs should be encouraged since birds are omnivores. Birds must be able to explore the ground and their natural environment throughout their life. The outdoor space must at least provide four square feet of space per bird. Shade must be provided in outdoor areas in the form of natural vegetation or shade cloths to encourage the birds out to range, and as a protection from predators. Shelters also provide protection from rain and wind during inclement weather. Smaller flock sizes are encouraged, housed in multiple camps. Birds that have undergone genetic selection to the point that their welfare is negatively affected are prohibited. Birds must be chosen with consideration of their ability to thrive in the prevailing climatic conditions of the farm. They must be able to perform natural behaviours such as nesting, perching and dust bathing. Birds should be encouraged and introduced to the range at an early age. No routine antibiotics. Shelters and housing must allow natural light to enter. When using drugs, it is generally advisable to withdraw medication at least 10 days before slaughter.

– Pasture-raised poultry
This is basically the same as free-range (above), though the term ‘pasture-raised’ indicates more clearly that the animal was predominantly outdoors on pasture and that its nutritional needs were supplemented with feed outdoors during the day. Ranging and foraging areas must be rotated to allow for constant vegetation. Birds housed preferably in mobile houses to ensure constant vegetation. Farmer re-sows and seeds pasture, which is carefully designed in order to have sufficient clean and nutritious pasture grass and lucerne, enough natural vegetation areas, and sufficient scrubs. Smaller flock sizes are encouraged, housed in multiple camps.

Encouraged practices
– Egg-layer farmers to source from hatcheries that can provide them with birds that have not been de-beaked.
– Rotational grazing encouraged. The chicken range should be divided into several parts and the chickens allowed to graze at one paddock at a time. This way, damaged ground can easily recover and there is less buildup of pests and parasites.
– Purchasing birds at an earlier age or breeding on the farm is recommended.
– Hatcheries are on the farm.
– Spent egg-layers are sold to reputable dealers or slaughtered on the farm.
– The use of birds derived from traditional breeds.
– The use of dual-purpose breeds so that male chicks can be raised as meat-type birds and female chicks can be raised as laying hens is recommended.

Non-lethal, holistic, ecologically acceptable and ethical management strategies to deal with wild livestock farming conflicts should be encouraged. If there is a continual threat from predators that cannot be managed by live trapping, advice must be sought either from The Landmark Foundation, Conservation SA, Cape Leopard Trust, Baboon Matters Trust or Endangered Wildlife Trust regarding a control programme. Foraging animals deemed as pests to be captured through live trapping. Even vegetable or grain farmers may practise culling of wild animals regarded as pests.

RABBIT (why caged rabbit is an elimination criteria)
There has been an increase of rabbit on South African restaurant menus. Concern exists because there are no regulations pertaining to rabbit farming in South Africa as yet. Rabbits that are slaughtered in South Africa currently fall under the Poultry Regulations, and only a handful of registered abattoirs are certified to slaughter rabbits. Rabbit farming regulations are currently still in draft form.

The NSPCA is opposed to all forms of farming and animal husbandry practices that cause suffering or distress to animals, or that unreasonably restrict their movements or their behavioural patterns necessary for the wellbeing of the species concerned. In the case of many rabbit farms, rabbits are kept in cages. Free-range rabbit farming is considered less attractive by farmers because cages enable farmers to have greater control over breeding and grant them easier monitoring of diets and litters.

The NSPCA (National Council of SPCAs) has raised concerns about rabbit farming, since it is viewed as a quick way of making money using spare buildings, equipment and labour. Inexperienced, untrained people are poorly equipped to look after the health and welfare of large numbers of animals.

Typical cage systems do not provide enough space for farmed rabbits to properly exercise and move (hop, jump, run and rear up on their hind legs with ears erect). Wire cage floors can also cause discomfort and foot injuries. These factors can further lead to skeletal spine and leg disorders in older rabbits used for breeding. Caged farmed rabbits do not have the space and facilities needed to express important natural behaviours, including normal social interactions with other rabbits (play, grooming, etc.); digging; hiding; gnawing on hard, edible objects; and normal mothering behaviour, such as covering the nest and moving away from the pups.

The NSPCA has stated: “In South Africa, rabbit meat is a delicacy served in expensive restaurants, but a large quantity of rabbit meat is also exported to the international market. Although our initial concern with regards to rabbit farming was the method of slaughter, our investigations and inspections have uncovered unacceptable conditions under which rabbits are bred and reared. We [have taken] a strong stance against the breeding and housing of rabbits in cages.”

EATegrity encourages consumers to stay informed via the NSPCA website and its newsletter as to livestock production concerns in South Africa.

RUMINANTS (cattle/sheep/goats)
– Certified Karoo Meat of Origin
The Certified Karoo Meat of Origin certification mark guarantees the origin of Karoo lamb and mutton meat. Farmers need to provide evidence that their farms are located in the Karoo region as identified by KMO. The distinctive character of the meat of the Karoo derives from free-range grazing or production on indigenous veldt vegetation. Hence only lamb that feeds freely from indigenous veld – in sizable camps representative of the identified typical Karoo vegetation – and that has access to clean water, qualifies for use of the name ‘Karoo lamb’. (Note that grain is permitted during dry season. Although not stated on standards, GMO feed is permitted.) See the standards here.

– Pasture-raised ruminants
The animal is raised outdoors on pasture and it eats grasses and food found in a pasture or natural veld. Pasturing livestock is a traditional farming technique that allows animals to be raised in a humane, ecologically sustainable manner. This is basically the same as grass-fed (below), though the term ‘pasture-raised’ indicates more clearly that the animal was raised outdoors on pasture and not fattened or kept in paddocks.

Animals that have undergone genetic selection to the point that their welfare is negatively affected are prohibited. Animals must be chosen with consideration of their ability to thrive in the prevailing climatic conditions of the farm in pasture-based, free-range, outdoor systems.

–       Grass-fed (free-range) ruminants
All livestock production must be based on pasture, grass and/or foraging. Grass and foraging shall be the feed source consumed for the lifetime of the ruminant animal, with the exception of milk consumed prior to weaning. The diet shall be derived solely from forage consisting of grass (annual and perennial), forbs (e.g. legumes, brassica), browse, or cereal grain crops in the vegetative (pre-grain) state. Animals cannot be fed grain or grain by-products (starch and protein sources) and must have continuous access to pasture. All livestock produced under this standard must be in veld, pasture, or in camps for their entire lives. This means that all animals must be maintained at all times on land with at least 75% forage cover or unbroken ground. Animals must not be confined to a pen, feed lot or other area where forages or crops are not grown during the growing season. Livestock produced under this standard may be fed hay, haylage, baleage, silage, crop residue without grain, and other roughage sources while on pasture during periods of low forage quality or inclement weather. Animals may not be given hormones or growth stimulators. Antibiotics may be administered only if animal is ill. (Adapted from Definition by American Grassfed Association).

Note: In 2007, the USDA adopted a final rule requiring 100 percent grass or forage-based diet standard for use of the ‘grass-fed’ claim. No urea permitted or chicken manure as feed. The majority of beef on the plates of South African restaurants does not come from grass-fed cows but grain-fed feedlots.

Fishery Improvement Projects
FIPs are initiatives that aim to enable fisheries to reach the sustainability standards that are required by credible third party assessment schemes, namely the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). We consider MSC certification to be the gold standard of eco-labelling for seafood products.

Fishery Conservation Projects
FCPs are local initiatives that are less comprehensive in nature. They are entered into by WWF-South Africa on a case-by-case basis. These projects focus on improving the environmental performance of a fishery, which has not yet developed a strategy for improvement against MSC standards or is not seeking MSC certification.

These projects are a sign of commitment to sustainable seafood. The WWF’s global fisheries programme, the Smart Fishing Initiative (SFI), has developed a detailed guide on FIPs and FCPs, including minimum requirements for WWF support and global recognition of these projects. For more information on FIPs and FCPs, see the Fisheries in Transition document here.

Procurement guidelines
WWF-SA has also developed procurement guidelines for species that are important to the South African seafood market. WWF-SASSI Retailer / Supplier Participants can adopt these guidelines to ensure that their suppliers are implementing best available practices – regardless of the practices of the broader sector. Procurement guidelines are available for tuna, salmon, prawn and South African linefish.

A producer that is not highly labour dependent. They are understood as those that are not structurally dependent on permanent hired labour and that are managing their farm mainly with their own and their family’s labour. Most of their working time is spent undertaking agricultural work on their farm. Revenues from their agricultural activities constitute the major part of their total income.

Transport vehicles shall be of suitable size to prevent damage and or bruising.

Gates must be used in transport vehicles to segregate animals into compatible groups and restrict movement of animals that could cause injury or damage.

Floors and ramps must be corrugated or suitably designed so the animal does not slip unduly.

Unloading ramps (not less than 1.5 metres in length) should have a level dock before the ramps go down so that animals have a level surface to walk on when they exit the truck. The inside walls of the ramp should be constructed so animals cannot see activities outside the ramp. Animals should be offloaded by experienced personnel as soon as practicable after arrival.

The use of electric prods is prohibited. Substitutes for prods include plastic paddles or sticks with flags on the end.

Animals should not be lifted by the horns, legs, ears, tail or wool during unloading.

Feed and clean water must be available before and after transport.

Time period from loading to unloading must not exceed eight hours. A responsible agent must accompany the livestock on the journey and be present for loading and unloading.

Unfit animals must not be transported. Slaughter will be carried out quickly and without undue stress.

For waiting periods in excess of six hours, provision of clean and dry areas must be made for animals to lie down, and feed must be provided if animals are held overnight.

Animals may not be held or herded in an area where the killing of other livestock is visible.

Animals must not be conscious during slaughter. A stun action device must be backed up by emergency measures in the case of failure.

Poultry: To reduce the animal’s stress, chickens are caught at night, one at a time.


This is based in most part on a glossary by EATegrity, with thanks to Sonia Mountford. Contact her via

Download the entry form for the Eat Out Woolworths Sustainability Award here.


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