Labels on food packages can help tell the story behind the food, so you can make informed decisions when shopping. A vast majority of consumers are increasingly interested in better living conditions for farm animals, reducing antibiotic use in food production, and protecting the environment from chemicals used in food production. Meaningful, truthful and consistent labels are critical for ensuring that consumers like you can vote with your food dollars to support a more just, sustainable and humane food system.
That's why we think labels should be third-party verified to meaningful and consistent standards.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) revised guidelines for meat and poultry labels in September 2016, which does not, for many labels, require the third-party certification and consistency in standards that we think are crucial for a fair and honest marketplace.
For the labels listed below, the USDA is proposing to continue allowing companies to make claims that are not third-party verified, and the agency will not require that companies meet a common set of standards. In fact, USDA will not define a standard, and will allow each company to determine its own definition of what it means when it makes these claims:
o Raised with care
o Humanely raised
o Sustainably raised
o Sustainably farmed
o Raised with environmental stewardship
o Cage free
o Crate free
o Free range
o Not confined
o Pasture raised
o Free roaming
o Pasture fed
o Pasture grown
o Meadow raised
One producer making a "humanely raised" claim on its meat and poultry products may be third-party certified to a comprehensive, highly meaningful set of standards that truly meet consumer expectations for animal welfare, while another producer may claim its products are "humanely raised" by meeting minimal standards that the company wrote, that don't or barely go above and beyond the norm for a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO), and that weren't independently verified. Yet both products could be labeled "humanely raised."
We submitted extensive and detailed comments to the USDA on its animal raising claims guidelines.