Photo: Anders Tedeholm/

Consumers around the world are increasingly conscious about their meat intake and want to ensure that the meat they eat, comes from animals that have had a happy and healthy life. Swedish high-quality meat is a tasty, sustainable and safe option for these consumers.

Swedes tend to look at the food supply chain through a holistic perspective. If the environment and animals are healthy, the food will be healthy and therefore, we will also be healthy. Accordingly, a restrictive use of antibiotics and pesticides, as well as strong values concerning animal welfare and health have for a long time been in focus for Swedish consumers, companies, authorities and government.

What is animal welfare really?

Animals in Sweden are kept and handled in accordance to strict Swedish animal welfare legislation. When animals are kept in a way taking into account their needs, they produce a better and tastier meat.

The regulations require that all cows and sheep should spend a certain number of months grazing during the summer. Pigs get to keep their entire tail, which presupposes good housing conditions. The stricter legislation for all Swedish animal production, leading to higher standards, are in most other countries only found in certain welfare concepts.

Some animal welfare examples are:

• All cows graze in the summer
• All pigs and sows are kept in loose housing with no permanent fixation
• No tail docking of pigs
• Castration & dehorning is carried out using anesthetics
• Transportation to slaughterhouses is kept under 8 hours
• No beak trimming in hens
• Possibility of performing natural behaviors

Swedish climate helps to keep animals healthy

Sweden has plenty of land and clean water for agriculture and our Nordic climate helps us to ensure a more sustainable agricultural production. The cold winters sanitize the landscape from bugs and pests, meaning that we have a lower need for pesticides, hence lower residues in crops and meat. Infections are also reduced by large open landscapes and a healthier environment can therefore be provided to the animals.

Photo: Miriam Preis/

Preventive animal health care at the forefront

What really distinguishes Swedish farming internationally is the long tradition and extensive work on preventive animal health care. Sweden, as first European country, even banned the use of antibiotics for growth promotion as early as 1986. This has resulted in the lowest use of antibiotics in the EU.

Swedish animal production is also free of several diseases that are present in other countries. For example, the mortality rate of dairy calves is one of the lowest in the world due to the absence of certain communicable diseases such as Bovine viral diarrhea (BVD).

Furthermore, Sweden has a salmonella control program which is more restrictive and more detailed than the EU legislation. The very low incidence of salmonella at farm level, along with control and hygiene routines in processing, results in virtually non-existent exposure to salmonella from Swedish chicken, eggs and meat.

Since Swedish eggs are free of Salmonella, Swedish eggs can be eaten without being fully cooked or fried. Other Swedish food producing animals, such as pigs, also have a uniquely low prevalence of salmonella.

Since many years back, Swedish animal farms are free from other zoonosis (diseases which can be transmitted between animals and humans), such as tuberculosis and brucellosis.

Swedish animals are also free of all the major epizootics, including diseases as Foot and mouth disease, Classical Swine Fever, African Swine Fever and Peste des Petits Ruminants. Furthermore, they are free of Scrapie and Sweden has official negligable risk status as regards to Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) granted by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

Photo: Tuukka Ervasti/

In addition, the pigs are free of Aujeszky’s disease and PRRS and the cattle population is free of Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR) and BVD. The Swedish farms also have a favourable situation regarding paratuberculosis, where strict measures have resulted in a uniquely high status.

If you are interested in finding out more about our Swedish animal welfare principles please contact the Swedish Meat Industry Association or the Swedish Board of Agriculture (SJV).

Sources: SJV – Swedish Food Production and the Swedish Meat Industry Association.

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