Animal Welfare Guide:
Decoding Food Labels + Certifications

zen vida Animal Welfare

Understanding food labels and certifications related to animal welfare is crucial for consumers who want to make informed and ethical choices. Here’s a guide to decoding some common labels and certifications:

Organic
Label: USDA Organic or equivalent labels in other countries.
Meaning: The product is produced without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). For animal products, it often indicates that animals are given organic feed and have access to the outdoors.

Free-Range or Pasture-Raised
Label: Phrases like “free-range” or “pasture-raised.”
Meaning: Indicates that animals have access to outdoor spaces, promoting more natural behaviors. However, the specific requirements can vary, so it’s essential to look for additional certifications for more detailed information.

Grass-Fed
Label: USDA Grass-Fed or equivalent labels.
Meaning: This signifies that the animals were primarily fed grass or forage rather than grains. Look for additional certifications to ensure adherence to specific standards.

Cage-Free
Label: Commonly found on egg cartons.
Meaning: Indicates that hens are not kept in small cages, but the extent of outdoor access and living conditions can vary. It may not necessarily mean they have access to pasture.

Humane Certified
Label: Various certifications, such as Certified Humane or Animal Welfare Approved.
Meaning: These certifications ensure that farms follow specific animal welfare standards, including space, diet and living conditions. Look for certifications from reputable organizations.

Non-GMO
Label: Non-GMO Project Verified or equivalent labels.
Meaning: Products with this label are produced without genetically modified organisms. This is not specific to animal welfare but can be relevant if you’re concerned about the feed given to animals.

MSC Certified (for Seafood)
Label: Marine Stewardship Council.
Meaning: Ensures that seafood is sourced sustainably, with consideration for the health of marine ecosystems and the welfare of fishing communities.

Fair Trade
Label: Fair Trade Certified.
Meaning: Primarily associated with coffee and chocolate, it ensures fair wages and ethical treatment of workers, but it doesn’t specifically address animal welfare.

Remember that labels can sometimes be misleading, and the best way to ensure animal welfare is to support transparent brands and certifications from reputable organizations. Additionally, local and direct sourcing from farmers can provide more insights into the actual practices on the farm.