The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Wednesday that it aim to eliminate any misleading or false claims of animal welfare on meat and poultry packaging. In order to achieve this, the agency has launched new testing and guidelines to scrutinize these claims thoroughly.
The USDA has reported that many food producers have been disingenuous in their claims concerning the welfare of animals on their packaging. Many of these claims are unsubstantiated and intended to deceive consumers and increase sales. The agency wants to ensure accurate information is provided so customers can make informed choices when buying meat and poultry products.
Through the new guidelines and tests, the USDA aims to improve the accuracy of animal welfare claims and ensure that producers comply with regulations and standards. By doing so, the ultimate goal is to promote transparency and establish trust with consumers in the meat and poultry industry.
Many food producers have been making false or misleading claims of animal welfare on their packaging to increase sales. These claims, including “humanely raised,” “raised without antibiotics,” and “pasture-raised,” have become increasingly popular among consumers. These claims allow producers to charge a premium, which benefits their business.
For example, Perdue’s “free range” chicken breasts that are raised without antibiotics sell for $5.78 per pound at Walmart, while the store brand chicken breasts that lack such claims sell for just $2.79 per pound. These claims are advantageous for producers because they attract customers who are willing to pay more for meat and poultry products that they believe are ethically produced.
The USDA has launched new guidelines and testing to combat these false and misleading claims. This is an effort to ensure that product information on meat and poultry products is accurate, allowing consumers to make informed decisions about their purchases and to promote transparency within the industry.
According to reports, both meat producers and animal welfare advocates have claimed that the USDA is not doing enough to ensure accurate and truthful animal welfare claims on packaging. The USDA has been criticized for allowing producers to define some terms, including “humane,” which has led to widely varying conditions for animals.
Although the USDA has clearly defined some claims, such as “free range,” some producers have been accused of skirting requirements. These false or misleading claims have led to confusion and a lack of trust among consumers about the welfare of the animals involved in the production of meat and poultry products.
To address these concerns, the USDA has launched new guidelines and tests to scrutinize these claims more thoroughly. By doing this, the agency aims to improve the validity of animal welfare claims and ensure that producers comply with regulations and standards. With these new measures, the USDA hopes to establish greater transparency and build trust with consumers within the meat and poultry industry.
In comparison to “organic” claims, which are verified in person by government officials, all animal welfare claims on meat and poultry labels must be approved by the USDA before products can be marketed. However, the USDA only relies on the paperwork submitted by producers to substantiate animal welfare claims, which have been criticized as unreliable.
This approach has resulted in confusion among consumers and the potential for false or misleading claims in meat and poultry products. To address these issues, the USDA has launched new guidelines and tests to ensure that animal welfare claims are valid and that producers are following regulations and standards.
By requiring greater substantiation of animal welfare claims on meat and poultry products, the USDA hopes to build trust with consumers within the industry and improve transparency. The testing and guidelines will be useful tools to ensure animal welfare claims on meat and poultry products are substantiated accurately, allowing consumers to make informed decisions about their purchases.
According to USDA’s Deputy Undersecretary for Food Safety, Sandra Eskin, the USDA lacks the regulatory authority to check animal welfare claims on farms, which limits their ability to ensure that producers comply with regulations and standards. This means that the USDA primarily relies on documentation submitted by producers to verify the accuracy of animal welfare claims on meat and poultry products.
However, Eskin also acknowledged that there are numerous companies that follow regulations and standards concerning animal welfare claims, while others do not. This discrepancy is unfair to honest producers who follow regulations and damages the trust of consumers in the food industry.
To address these issues, the USDA has unveiled new guidelines and testing to ensure that animal welfare claims on meat and poultry products are substantiated accurately and that producers are following regulations and standards. With these measures in place, the USDA aims to create greater transparency and build trust with consumers in the meat and poultry industry.
In response to the issue of false or misleading animal welfare claims on meat and poultry products, the USDA has announced plans to update its guidelines to require more documentation from companies that make these claims. The agency also intends to encourage companies to hire third-party verification groups like Human Farm Animal Care, a non-profit organization that certifies animal welfare claims.
The USDA also plans to explore new testing methods to substantiate “no antibiotics” claims. The agency intends to develop a test that can detect traces of antibiotics in animals when they arrive at processing plants. This would be a departure from the current practice, which involves relying solely on documentation submitted by producers to verify these claims.
By implementing these new measures, the USDA hopes to improve the accuracy of animal welfare claims on meat and poultry products and ensure that consumers can make informed decisions when purchasing these products. The agency also believes that these measures will encourage greater transparency in the industry and build trust with customers.
The USDA is also considering updating definitions of certain animal welfare claims, as part of its efforts to ensure accurate and truthful information on meat and poultry packaging. Some producers, such as Perdue Foods, have been advocating for such changes. Perdue Foods has requested that the USDA differentiate between “free range” and “pasture raised” claims, as they have been used interchangeably by the agency.
Perdue Foods has noted that while “free range” chickens may have space to move around on dirt or shrubs, they may not necessarily have access to pasture. The company has suggested that adding a “pasture raised” label would help consumers make more informed decisions about animal welfare when they purchase meat and poultry products.
If the USDA decides to update definitions of animal welfare claims, it could help establish clearer standards in the industry and prevent misleading language on packaging that can confuse consumers. These steps will likely be beneficial both for producers who strive to meet animal welfare standards and for consumers who want to make informed choices about the products they purchase.
The Animal Welfare Institute, a non-profit organization that monitors animal welfare claims submitted to the USDA, has reported that 85% of the 97 claims it reviewed had inadequate documentation to substantiate animal welfare claims.
Dena Jones, Director of the Animal Welfare Institute’s farmed animal program, said that much of the documentation provided by producers was insufficient, consisting of only a sentence or two claiming that the animals were raised humanely. Jones noted that such information is inadequate to prove that animal welfare standards were met.
These findings underscore the need for the USDA to update its guidelines and testing to ensure that animal welfare claims on meat and poultry packaging are properly substantiated. By requiring producers to provide more substantial evidence to support their animal welfare claims, the USDA can promote transparency and build greater trust with consumers in the meat and poultry industry.
Dena Jones, Director of the Animal Welfare Institute’s farmed animal program praised the steps that the USDA is taking to ensure the accuracy and validity of animal welfare claims on meat and poultry products. She noted that producers have submitted numerous animal welfare claims to the USDA due to increasing consumer demand for higher animal welfare standards.
Jones commended the USDA’s promotion of third-party verification, which she said would benefit the animals, the environment, farmers investing in farming practices, and the agency itself. She also pointed out that the new measures would expedite the process for the USDA.
Last year, the USDA received over 120 label applications each week, which makes it clear how important it is for producers to provide accurate and truthful information on their packaging to avoid any confusion for consumers. By doing so, producers will gain the trust of consumers, thereby increasing sales and improving the reputation of the meat and poultry industry.