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:
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)
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 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.