Advocacy Groups Push for “Humane” Labeling

Jan 13, 2011   

Recently, animal welfare advocates have been calling for the labeling of “humane” food.  On December 30, 2010, animal rights groups increased their efforts by updating their petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) and calling for rulemaking to standardize labeling requirements of eggs.  Specifically, the petition urges the USDA to standardize labeling requirements to alert consumers of the conditions under which food products have been produced.  Currently, a few major retailers, like Whole Foods, have signaled their support by announcing their intentions to inform interested consumers by adding signs indicating humanely-produced products in stores. 

While there is no official word from the USDA regarding standardizing “humane” labels on eggs and other foods, this is not the only issue raised by consumer groups in regards to labeling.  The term “natural” has also come under scrutiny by consumer groups, as food companies are using this word to market their products to appeal to health-conscious consumers.  As we previously reported, a recent poll revealed that the majority of consumers were skeptical of the term “natural” being used on food labels and would like to see some uniformity regarding how “natural” is defined.  Similar to the use of “humane,” there is currently no standardized definition or certification process regarding the use of “natural” in labeling.  On the other hand, there is currently a certification process concerning the use of “organic” in labeling, which may only be used after several requirements are met.  Advocacy groups are calling for similar requirements to limit the use of “humane” and “cage-free” on food labels to those products that meet these kind of standards. 

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