ChewsWise Blog

ChewsWise Blog

Grill the Right Thing

If you’re thinking of grilling this weekend, you might take a look at this recent report, Finding Animal Friendly Food, from the World Society for the Protection of Animals. It surveyed 23 supermarket companies and rated them on humane meat -- the latest in surveys of this type. 

Whole Foods Market rated the highest, with twice as many humane meat offerings as the number 2 ranked supermarket in the list, Wegmans, a northeastern chain. Stores within larger chains, such as H.E. Butt’s Central Market and HEB Plus! stores, and Kroger’s City Market stores, also scored high. Wal-Mart ranked near the bottom.

What the survey did not include, however, were smaller stores and co-ops, which may have good choices as well.

Labels and claims in this area are often confusing, so here’s a quick cheat sheet from the society:

A GOOD Start

These labels cover only one aspect of animal care and a third party does not verify compliance with the standards.
- “Cage free” (eggs)
- “Free range” (eggs, chicken, duck, goose, turkey)
- “Grass fed” (dairy, beef, lamb)


These labels feature a higher level of animal welfare, but the standards are either not verified by a third party or cover only a limited aspect of animal care.
- “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)

The BEST Options

These labels cover multiple aspects of animal care and an independent third party verifies compliance with the standards.
- “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)

No bearing on animal welfare

- “No antibiotics used” / “No hormones administered” –  “No antibiotics used” suggests the animal wasn’t raised on a factory farm but by itself is not an indicator of high animal welfare. Hormones are never administered in poultry or turkeys.

- “Natural” – This label currently has no relevance to animal welfare. It merely indicates that the product was minimally processed and contains no dyes or preservatives.

- “Naturally raised” – The USDA has proposed but not finalized a definition for this claim. Producers are using this label to indicate that the animal was raised without the use of antibiotics and hormones and had been given only vegetarian feed.