This year, over 123,000 consumers joined Compassion in World Farming in asking the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to stop verifying factory farmed chicken as "humane." Through its Processed Verified Program, which verifies food label claims for chicken giant Perdue, the USDA was validating that conventional chicken was "humanely raised."
We are pleased to report the USDA is no longer using the term "humanely raised" in its verification of Perdue chicken. This is a victory for consumers who continually face confusing food labels. There is nothing humane about factory farming.
Last year Craig Watts, a contract chicken farmer for Perdue, decided he could no longer stay silent about the so-called "humanely raised" chicken that families often pay a premium for at the supermarket. He joined forces with Compassion USA to show the world the inside of his chicken houses.
What he revealed was overcrowding, dim lighting, raw bellies from sitting on ammonia-soaked litter, and chickens bred to grow so fast they couldn't support their own weight.
Consumers were outraged, not only at the conditions nearly all chickens raised for meat in the US are kept in, but also because they were "being hoodwinked," as Watts said, by the USDA Process Verified label on the package.
With Watts, Compassion USA launched a change.org petition to ask the USDA why they were putting their stamp of approval on factory farmed chicken. Two US Senators, Cory Booker and Dianne Feinstein, also urged the USDA to update their labeling policy to ensure meaningful animal welfare claims.
Perdue, facing pressure from customers who felt they were being lied to, requested the USDA change the verification from “humanely raised” to a more general “poultry care.”
Consumers have a right to know where their food comes from. Misleading labels are unacceptable and, thanks to a unified consumer voice, this meaningless animal welfare claim has been removed.
If you buy animal products, look for these third party, independently audited animal welfare labels: Animal Welfare Approved, Global Animal Partnership (GAP) Step 3 or higher, and Certified Humane.