US: Farm Sanctuary releases report on “humane” meat labels
Posted: April 29th, 2009 - 10:17pm
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization, today released a new report that thoroughly evaluates the animal welfare claims made by agribusiness industry groups, food retailers and third-party certification organizations. As the most comprehensive report of its kind, “The Truth Behind the Labels: Farm Animal Welfare Standards and Labeling Practices” analyzes the criteria used to define such commonly-used marketing phrases as “humane,” “free range” and “naturally raised.”
As more consumers have learned about the animal welfare concerns related to factory farms, they have increasingly demanded that farm animals receive better treatment. They have also shown that they are willing to pay a premium for meat, milk and eggs from so-called “humane” farms. This growing demand has led to the creation of more than a dozen animal welfare assurance schemes sponsored by industry groups, food retailers and third-party organic and humane certification organizations. Government-regulated animal welfare labels and marketing claims have also emerged and expanded.
According to Farm Sanctuary Co-founder and President Gene Baur, “Most people will be surprised to learn that even the most stringent standards often fail to meet their expectations about how animals should be treated. For example, in many of these labeling schemes, 'free range' birds still spend their entire lives tightly packed together in sheds, physical mutilations like debeaking and tail docking are still allowed, and there are no requirements for outdoor access for some species. We developed this report to provide the facts and increase the transparency of the labeling process so the public knows what they are purchasing.”
“The Truth Behind the Labels” is an updated and expanded version of a 2005 Farm Sanctuary report entitled “Farm Animal Welfare: An Assessment of Product Labeling Claims, Industry Quality Assurance Guidelines and Third-Party Certification Programs.” Farm Sanctuary’s labeling reports remain the only comprehensive analyses of animal product labeling schemes ever published to help today's consumers understand the process. The creation of this report has led to the launch of Farm Sanctuary’s Truth Behind Labels campaign which serves to educate consumers about the reality of these labeling schemes and to advocate for transparency in animal welfare standards.
Farm Sanctuary has produced two versions of “The Truth Behind the Labels” to meet the needs of different audiences. One is a 16-page summary booklet designed for consumers, and the other is a 68-page report for academics in university agriculture departments and other specialists (such as government officials working for the USDA and the Food and Drug Administration) who are studying these issues for the purpose of policy formation.
Farm Sanctuary's summary booklet and report entitled “The Truth Behind the Labels: Farm Animal Welfare Standards and Labeling Practices,” is available at www.farmsanctuary.org.