Zero tolerance standard: control of breeding, exclusion of live plucking and force-feeding
Exclusion of down from foie gras production = precondition for DOWNPASS 2017
Exclusion of filling material from living animals = precondition for DOWNPASS 2017
Number of certified products since 2010 sixfold
Companies in Poland, Hungary, Ukraine and Russia audited
Companies in Denmark, England, France, Germany, Italy, Norway and Switzerland audited
Companies in China, Taiwan and Vietnam audited
Each product is clearly identifiable by a number code

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The expert

The consumer is in control

Germany has no nationwide legislation on the breeding of waterfowl, such as ducks and geese. Many of its states even lack fundamental animal welfare regulations and laws. Each species requires specific breeding conditions, and, as an agronomist, I expressly endorse a procedure that ensures that this is monitored through inspections. It is good to know that breeding conditions are being monitored, that there is currently an increase in international zero tolerance standards and that the economy and stakeholders have thus created a virtual standard on a global scale.
The consumer is in control and can decide which products to buy. With bedding audited under the DOWNPASS 2017 standard, there is no need to do without downs and feathers

Prof. Heinz Pingel, PhD (agr. habil.)

Behind the scenes

Standards and labels

There are a several different ethical methods of sourcing downs and feathers as by-products from the killing of geese and ducks. The three most widely used stakeholder-based standards are the DOWNPASS Standard (DP), the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) and the Global Traceable Down Standard (TDS).

All standards promote the global aim of ensuring proper animal protection for geese and ducks in animal husbandry, increasing awareness for the way in which downs and feathers are obtained, improving the protection of our fellow creatures and creating transparency throughout the supply chains of any fillings made from downs and feathers. This starts at the breeding stage. Moreover, all these standards ban the use of downs and feathers from live animals and from animals kept for the production of foie gras.

A traceability system can start with the breeding of parent animals, but must definitely comprise the breeding of the relevant geese and ducks themselves as well as their transportation and killing and the processing of downs and feathers. It also covers, for instance, personnel training activities and the precise documentation of the product flow under the relevant standard, from the breeding at the farm to the manufacturing of the finished product.

All standards specify that the supply chain must be inspected by independent audit organisations. Such organisations conduct announced and unannounced audits at various points along the chain, inspect the breeding of the animals and check the progress of the downs and feathers right up to the manufacturing of the finished product. Once a finished product has been successfully audited, it can be marked with the relevant logo. Audits must be repeated at regular intervals, although the validity period of an initial audit may vary. Other differences concern the treatment of high-risk areas where the DOWNPASS 2017, for instance, requires 100% coverage of the relevant farms. It is in fact the only standard that goes further than other animal welfare guidelines, as it also requires a quality audit.

Further details can be found online RDS 2.0, NSF 451 – 2016 (TDS) and DOWNPASS 2017.

Facts instead of B-movies

Our active active interest in issues of climate change and sustainability goes back to a time before 2006, the year when Al Gore, the former Vice President of the United States and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (2007), presented his film An Inconvenient Truth. What we demand is a higher level of accountability in business and industry. We also want to know more about the products with which we surround ourselves, and we want to see transparency and information about decisions and their backgrounds. Values keep changing, new lifestyles are encouraged, and old ones are penalised. In the past this has led to conflicts which thrived more on emotions and dramatic effects than on facts. It is therefore time for us to approach such issues on a different and more objective basis. This, in fact, is the purpose of the downs and feathers industry through, which presents 40 facts on the importance of animal welfare to our industry. Come along and watch us as we conduct audits. Have a look at our authentic images, learn about the background and learn some facts and figures.

For several years now the downs and feathers industry has been working to ensure a well monitored supply chain in which the required material is gained in an animal-friendly manner. Working with consumer and animal protection organisations, the aim has been to create a fully traceable system in which downs and feathers cannot possibly come from live animals or from foie gras production and where animal breeding is inspected at the relevant farms. This has now been achieved through the DOWNPASS 2017, so that there is a suitable monitoring and inspection mechanism which ensures credible checking procedures and transparency in the humane treatment of our fellow creatures. This has made it possible to identify gaps, to implement improvements and to find good ways to intervene where active animal protection is required.

Like other zero tolerance standards, the DOWNPASS 2017 specifies a ban on live plucking and foie gras meat, while also demanding that animals are bred under a monitored procedure. Its strength lies in the 100% inspections which are applied to all farms in high-risk areas. Moreover, as well as ensuring compliance with animal protection requirements, the standard is unparalleled in its monitoring of quality.

Switching to substitute materials – such as nonwovens made from fossil fuels – does not protect animals, and neither does it warrant good standards in animal husbandry. After all, geese and ducks are not kept for their downs and feathers, but for the purpose of meat production. Downs and feathers are by-products when the animals are slaughtered and subsequently undergo further processing. It is this further processing which is at the focus of the downs and feathers industry, a sector which did not originally have any major impact on animal breeding. However, this has now changed substantially, particularly in more recent years. Thanks to the initiative of the downs and feathers industry, an EU-wide law was passed a while ago, in 1999, banning the inhumane practice of live plucking.

The DOWNPASS Check of Facts

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55122 Mainz
Phone +49 6131 588560
Telefax +49 6131 5885615