FALSE LABELS: Agriculturally sustainable and environmentally friendly, ethically raised, free raised, humane, humanely raised, raised humanely, socially raised, sustainable, sustainably farmed, and thoughtfully raised.
CLAUDIA HARMATA: ‘Consumers looking for environmentally friendly and cruelty-free food are being misled by some meat and poultry producers, according to a new report. In September, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) published a new study about the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and their food labelling process — which the non-profit says allows producers to claim their products are “humane” and “sustainable” on their packaging without sufficient supporting evidence.
The AWI analyzed a collection of files sent to the USDA for label approval that were made for 23 distinct claims to appear on the packages of 19 meat and poultry products from 2014 through 2018. Those claims included: “agriculturally sustainable and environmentally friendly,” “ethically raised,” “free raised,” “humane,” “humanely raised,” “raised humanely,” “socially raised,” “sustainable,” “sustainably farmed,” and “thoughtfully raised.”
Their review revealed that the USDA is repeatedly approving the use of these claims as long as the producer defines the claim on the packaging. While this may seem like it should prevent issues of non-transparency, AWI has found that the label definitions are often “inconsistent” and “approved without sufficient verification that producers actually meet these definitions.”
“The system is easily manipulated by producers who want to make higher-welfare claims on their packages and charge a premium without improving the treatment of animals raised under their care,” Erin Sutherland, staff attorney for AWI’s farm animal program said to PEOPLE in a press release. “Because of the USDA’s lack of oversight, consumers are often thwarted in their attempts to use labels to guide their food-buying decisions”.’ SOURCE…