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Animal welfare claims on food labels decoded by new guide

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) has come out with ‘A Consumer's Guide to Food Labels and Animal Welfare’, whose aim is to dispel ambiguity faced by consumers regarding the meaning of label claims, help them purchase meat, dairy and eggs and locate products from animals that were raised and handled without cruelty.

According to AWI’s label guide, the most common claims related to farm animal welfare are defined into three categories of certified labels, unverified claims and unverified claims.

Certified labels are defined by a set of publicly available animal care standards, and it is seen if the labels comply with those standards after verification by a third-party audit.

Unverified claims are with regards to animal welfare, but these standards are not clearly defined, and also their compliance isn’t verified by an independent audit.

Meaningless or misleading claims are those which mislead in terms of animal welfare or are baseless.

AWI’s farm animal program manager Dena Jones said the welfare of animals raised for food is important to consumers and is increasingly becoming a decider while buying food.

"Unfortunately, few people outside the food industry and U.S. Department of Agriculture understand the meaning of the various claims used on packaging. This guide helps consumers decipher label claims and make decisions consistent with their values regarding how animals raised for food should be treated," added Jones.