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Grocers looking to looking to promote their humanely farmed fooda can direct their shoppers to the World Society for the Protection of Animals’ (WSPA) new searchable database at EatHumane.org.
WSPA developed the database to make it easier for consumers to shop for humanely farmed foods, which it says are healthier and more environmentally sustainable than industrially farmed alternatives. The online tool allows people to search the top 25 U.S. grocery stores for dairy, eggs and meat, based on animal welfare standards associated with labels like “cage-free,” “free-range” and “organic.” The group’s goal is to help consumers decipher confusing food labels and identify brands to help them make more ethical and socially responsible decisions.
“Studies show that consumers care about the welfare of animals and also prove that humane farming practices are better for our health and the health of our planet,” said Sharanya Krishna Prasad, WSPA U.S. programs officer. “Every day, we have the opportunity to impact the quality of animal’s lives with our food choices, and WSPA aims to make it easier to purchase these products.”
According to Boston-based WSPA, the majority of U.S. animals raised for consumption spend their lives confined in factory-style farms that use “production line” methods to maximize the amount of meat produced while minimizing costs, and that this factory-farmed meat is often laden with saturated fat, cholesterol and hormones that promote obesity, diabetes and several forms of cancer.
Levels of animal welfare are identified by a variety of food package labels. At EatHumane.org, WSPA rates labels like “free-range,” “USDA organic” and “Certified Humane” in terms of how animals raised for food are treated.
Below are three classes of labeling and WSPA’s rating of them:
Good: Cage-free (eggs), free-range (eggs, chicken, duck, goose, turkey), grass-fed (dairy, beef, lamb). These claims cover one aspect of animal care, although a third party doesn’t verify compliance with the standards.
Better: Free-range (beef, bison, lamb, pork), pasture-raised (dairy, eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, bison, lamb, pork), USDA Organic (dairy, eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, bison, lamb, pork). These feature a higher level of animal welfare, but standards are either not verified by a third party or cover only a limited aspect of animal care.
Best: American Humane Certified (dairy, eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork), Animal Welfare Approved (dairy, eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork), Certified Humane (dairy, eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork). These cover multiple aspects of animal care, and an independent third party verifies compliance with the standards.
Through partnership, WSPA works with more than 1,000 organizations worldwide to phase out intensive farming and to promote more humane food alternatives among retailers and consumers.