Victory: USDA to improve oversight of animal welfare claims on food
Did you know? There is very little government scrutiny when a company claims its food products meet certain wellness standards, such as “free-range” or “cruelty-free”. But, with the recent USDA announcement, that is about to change.
After consulting with the ASPCA and other advocacy groups, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced long-sought reforms to limit the use of unregulated terms related to animal welfare by food producers and help level the playing field for farmers. These reforms include:
- Updated guidance and stricter verification requirements for claims widely used on animal welfare labels.
- New rules to end the unfair, deceptive and discriminatory treatment of contract poultry farmers.
- More financial resources to meet the needs of small and medium producers and agricultural workers.
The USDA announcement details the agency’s plan to limit the power of the biggest meat and poultry companies that dominate the market, like Tyson and JBS. The massive influence of these corporations harms animals, farmers, workers, consumers and the environment, all of which have been largely powerless to stop the destructive and cruel practices of factory farming.
One of the major failures that has fooled consumers and allowed inhumane factory farming to dominate our food system is the USDA label approval process. It currently allows companies to affix misleading terms, such as “pasture-raised”, “natural” and “humanely raised” to products that, in fact, come from factory farms.
The USDA does not define, or defines only very loosely, many of these commonly used animal welfare claims. Instead, it allows businesses to set their own usage parameters, verified only by a signed affidavit from the business confirming compliance. their own standards. As a result, grocery store shelves are filled with factory-farmed foods bearing seemingly meaningful and positive claims. In addition to misleading customers, these products unfairly compete with and disadvantage truly wealthier farmers legitimately using the same claims.
To ensure that animal welfare claims actually meet consumer expectations, the ASPCA and our allies have urged the USDA to update its food label approval guidelines to require meaningful certifications of animal welfare. – to be animal. This will finally establish a baseline for these highly valued animal welfare claims – removing existing loopholes, enabling fair competition and significantly reducing the likelihood of well-meaning consumers being tricked into purchasing a factory-farmed product. .
The ASPCA looks forward to working with the USDA in the coming months to create new labeling guidelines with strict verification requirements to ensure animal welfare claims paint a more truthful picture for buyers. , benefit farmers who raise animals more humanely and support efforts to provide livestock products. animals with a better life.
We need your help! Join our Industrial Agriculture Task Force and we can work together to create a more humane and transparent food system.