What Do All of Those Animal-Welfare Labels Mean?

Farm Forward’s Andrew deCoriolis talks to the New York Times

For years, Farm Forward has worked to create a more transparent and humane food system. Consumers demand greater transparency within this system, especially when it comes to animal welfare. Finding products raised in accordance with their values often proves impossible because factory-farmed animals dominate the marketplace.

Third-party animal welfare certifications are a key part of the solution to this problem. Before a product can bear the seal of a third-party animal welfare certification, an auditor visits the farm where the animals are raised and inspects the operation to make sure it meets certain standards. The leading welfare certifications, like Animal Welfare Approved and Global Animal Partnership, have detailed standards that outline how animals must be raised to be certified under their program. Unfortunately, many other certifications or label claims that are not as meaningful, making it difficult to know if you are truly buying food that matches your values.

Major news outlets are publishing stories about the increasing demand for better and more humane animal products. The latest, Stephanie Strom’s New York Times piece “What To Make of Those Animal Welfare Labels on Meat and Eggs,” breaks down the three largest certifications and their implications for transparency and animal welfare.

The article quotes Andrew deCoriolis, Farm Forward’s Director of Strategic Programs & Engagement: “Not all certification seals are created equal. Companies can essentially pick the standards that are the easiest for them to meet….It’s no wonder the largest of the certifying groups is the American Humane Association, the group behind the ‘American Humane Certified’ seal. Many of its standards are less rigorous than other groups’, and therefore preferred by meat companies.”

This lack of transparency and meaning in labels is one of the main reasons we created BuyingPoultry—to help consumers cut through confusing labels and find healthier, higher-welfare poultry and egg options. Certifications are a move in the right direction, but we still have work to do to hold farmers accountable for the claims they make about the way they raise and slaughter farmed animals for food. We will continue to put pressure on American Humane Certified to improve their standards and align them with what consumers expect for basic treatment of farmed animals.

Read the entire New York Times article here.

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