Restaurants have been urged to introduce or improve policies on animal welfare and communicate them more effectively to customers.
The call came after a TNS survey of more than 2,000 UK consumers, commissioned by the RSPCA, revealed that nearly six in ten see animal welfare as an important consideration when buying products.
A separate RSPCA survey of more than 2,100 consumers, carried out by Mori, showed that almost three quarters now buy free-range, freedom food or organic chicken following the TV exposes from Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
David Bowles, head of external affairs for the RSPCA, said: "Our research shows there is a growing demand for higher welfare meat, fish and dairy.
"We are encouraging restaurants to strive to introduce or improve policies on animal welfare and to tell their customers about them. Very often just asking the right questions of suppliers will encourage them to make improvements."
The research was commissioned to mark the launch of the 2008 RSPCA Good Business Awards.
The awards recognise restaurants which set out to source their meat, fish and dairy from providers that maintain high animal welfare, covering living conditions, transport, slaughter methods, labelling or farm inspections.
Last year's winners for achieving higher standards of animal welfare were Leon (Restaurant Chain) and The Swan Inn in Hungerford (Independent Restaurant).
Cubana Bar & Restaurant in London and Moshi Moshi also received Innovation Awards for their commitment to improving animal welfare.
By Daniel Thomas
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