What are the standards for Swiss organic meat? Are those better than in the EU?

Hi there,

Here is our Befter project. Our project begins with two steps. The first step is what we would like to know about it and the second step is what we have found out by researching and with the interview.

Step one

We would like to know more about the standards for our Swiss organic meat. There has been a lot of controversy if organic meat is better and we would like to make the comparison to the EU standards. In addition we want to know the impact to our environment when we eat meat. What are the production costs?

What we already know

  • the standards for Swiss organic meat is stricter compared to the EU ones.
  • the cultivation for the corn (food for the animals) is enormous.

Interesting links
[1] Durchblick im Biolabel-Dschungel: Wie gut sind Schweizer Siegel? (nachhaltigleben.ch)
[2] Das grosse Mästen (nzz.ch)
[3] Richtlinien und Merkblätter von Bio Suisse Schweiz (bio-suisse.ch)
[4] Bio Fleisch bei Alnatura (alnatura.de)

Step two

Right now, we do research on the different standards for meat. We have found a lot of different labels. We want to focus on one label from Switzerland and one from the EU. Sadly, the farmer nearby (from where Yasmin lives) does not have time for an interview.

We have found a guideline from Bio Suisse and want to summarize the main points about the animal husbandry, their feeding and the price for the meat.

These are the labels:

The label “Bio Suisse Knospe”

Logo from the “Bio Suisse” Label

Bio Suisse is the leading organic organisation in Switzerland and owner of the “Knospe” brand. At least 80 percent of the raw materials in a product must come from Switzerland. The Knospe is also the brand for products produced according to Bio Suisse guidelines.

Bio Suisse’s 6’140 agricultural and horticultural companies (Landwirtschafts- und Gartenbaubetriebe), as well as over 885 processing and trading companies with licence agreements, use Knospe on their products.

The label “Alnatura”

Logo from the “Alnatura” label

The brand contributes to ecological improvements in the cultivation and processing of food. The majority of Alnatura products are imported from Germany and EU.


Step three

Knospe Bio Suisse

Use of antibiotics
If animals become ill, complementary medicine has priority. If a farmer cannot cure a disease with it, he may also administer other medication on the order of a veterinarian. The preventive (vorbeugend) use of antibiotics is prohibited.

Animals receive organic feed (Futter), which is absolutely free of genetic engineering (Gentechnik) and synthetic additives such as enzymes or growth promoters (Wachstumsförderer, z.B. Hormone). Ruminants (Wiederkäuer) such as dairy cows, beef cattle (Schlachtrind), goats or sheep receive a particularly large amount of roughage (Raufutter) such as grass and hay. However, they do not receive more than ten percent of their ration in concentrated feed (Kraftfutter) such as cereals and protein carriers (Eiweissträger, z.B. Soja, Fischmehl).

Origin and transport
The meat comes exclusively from Switzerland and only feed or ingredients are imported if there is too little of it in Switzerland. Transports by plane are prohibited. Bio Suisse also advises food manufacturers on how the can package the products ecologically.

The season of meat
Because many organic farms are at home in mountain areas and organic animals eat as much food as possible from their own farms, this is particularly true of organic meat. A high supply does not always meet with the interest of consumers. And in summer, when the grills are hot, of all times, there is sometimes a lack of organic meat, because many cattle, lambs and cows spend the summer on the alp. Organic cows often give birth to their calves in autumn. Some of the calves are raised as dairy cows for the renewal of the herd and the meat of the remaining calves is offered in spring.


The season of the “Alnatura meat”

Animal husbandry
According to the association`s guidelines, the cattle must have at least five square meters of stable area at their disposal. In cattle fatting there are only three per animal. Organic animals get organic food.

Use of antibiotics
If an animal falls ill nevertheless, naturopathy (Naturheilkunde) and homeopathy (Homöopathie) have priority. Preventive administration (Verabreichung) of antibiotics, hormones or even treatment of entire herds is prohibited by the EC Organic Regulation (?).

Our conclusion

Overall our research has confirmed that for Swiss organic meat stricter laws exist. In general it was easier to find the information about “Bio Knospe” than “Alnatura”. We are surprised that so many antibiotics injections are legal. Our awareness for organic meat has increased. Through our project we will improve our consumer behaviour and share our knowledge with others.


We interviewed an about 30-35 years old butcher from the region of Zurich on the 28th of September:

What are the differences between your organic or conventional meat?

Organic meat is guaranteed from a happier animal than meat of a conventional animal, but it doesn’t mean that the quality is better. Since Switzerland has a high level of animal welfare (Tierschutz), the difference is very small. In addition, organic animals are rather reluctant (zurückhaltend) to take medication. There is also a price difference. Organic meat is more expensive because the producer has to put more work into his animals.

Are you producing according to the specification of a label?

Yes, Kag-Freiland.

What to you think of Knospe Bio Suisse?

In my opinion this is too general. If you produce Bio, than you should take a more specific label for meat.

Do you know if your meat contains antibiotics?

In Switzerland meat must be free of antibiotics at the time of slaughter (Zeitpunkt der Schlachtung). Therefore it’s impossible to consume antibiotic meat. Our few import meat is also free from antibiotics.

Do you know how it is transported?

Our animals are taken to the slaughterhouse in Hinwil by cattle transporters (Viehtransporter). Because we get all our animals by surrounding area, they don’t have to go through long journeys.

Discussion with our classmates

To finish our project we have asked individuals from our class what they think of organic meat. We have searched for the discussion and carried the thoughts together:

“Personally, I don’t care about organic meat. But I always purchase meat from Swiss animals because I know the laws are stricter than in Germany for example”

“I mostly consume meat from the farm in our village so I am sure this is a high quality product. But if I buy meat from somewhere else, I try to purchase organic meat.”

“I am suprised that a lot of people only eat organic meat. For me, I just care about a good price.”

Yasmin & Michelle

On-topic posts on dontwastemy.energy
The Beef Cycle (Farming in Züri Oberland)
“Grey energy” in agricultural products

☷ See the project teams here »
☵ Some words about the contributions »

2 thoughts on “What are the standards for Swiss organic meat? Are those better than in the EU?

  1. Hi, I just read an article (4.3.20) in the magazine saldo about meat consumption in Switzerland! There seem to be big differences in the livestock farming of imported meat. In the article a new label is mentioned, it is called “M-Check”: it indicates whether an imported cattle comes from outdoor or pasture farming. Shouldn’t it be the other way round, i.e. good animal-friendly husbandry is a prerequisite and the “bad” ones should get a label?
    Link to the article: https://www.saldo.ch/artikel/artikeldetail/tierhaltung-in-uruguay-oft-besser-als-in-der-schweiz/

  2. Hi, thanks for this revealing article about a very important topic. As meat consumption is very climate relevant and headlines as the low prices for a calf in Germany (7EUR or so) are everywhere – in my opinion society has to change direction urgently towards new standards including ethical and sustainability focal points. Not only consumers but also producers!

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