What You Can Do About False Animal Welfare Labels on Meat, Dairy, and Eggs

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has issued a “What We Heard” report about its planned overhaul of Canadian food labelling regulations. What We Heard reports are issued after stakeholders are consulted on proposed policy changes; themes in stakeholder feedback are identified and summarized.

What does food labelling have to do with animal protection, anyway? Meat, dairy and egg packaging often tries to present products as animal-friendly, using terms like “free range,” “cage-free,” “grass-fed” and “family farm.” These labels suggest to consumers that animals were raised in a certain way and may convince them to buy or even pay more for animal products with these labels.

If labelling laws are lax, there is no incentive for producers to improve conditions for animals, because they can mislead consumers instead of making actual changes. In addition, consumers who care about animals may be led to believe that so-called humane agriculture is kind for animal…

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The CFIA Wants to Make It Easier to Mislead Consumers About Meat, Dairy, and Eggs

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is overhauling food labelling regulations, which include animal welfare claims on meat, dairy, and egg packaging like “free range” and “grass fed.” But instead of cracking down on the epidemic of false animal welfare claims, the government plans to weaken regulations and introduce new loopholes.

The CFIA wants to make animal welfare and related “consumer values” claims its lowest enforcement priority. In other words, the agency won’t proactively define and regulate claims about how farmed animals are treated, and may not even bother investigating companies for blatantly false animal welfare claims.

Instead, the CFIA wants to make it consumers’ responsibility to contact companies themselves to find out what their animal welfare claims mean. According to the CFIA, industry has a “legal and ethical responsibility” to ensure labelling claims are not misleading. But consumers have no way of verifying information provi…

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Canadian Food Labels Guide

Food labels are intended to enable consumers to make informed food choices. Unfortunately, food labels in Canada are largely unregulated and can be misleading. Thus, the use of food labels such as “cage free”, “organic”, “free range”, “grass fed”, “natural”, and so on, may not mean what you think they mean. This guide sets out what food labels do—and don’t—mean for animal welfare.

 

 

 

 

Food Labels*

“Cage free”: means hens are not confined to battery cages. However, they don’t have access to the outdoors, and there are no assurances about what they are fed or what kinds of medications they are given.[1] Further, these claims are unverified and uncertified, meaning that no independent inspection or verification ensures that producers using these labels are in fact raising their animals in the method indicated.[2]

“Certified local sustainable”: means that eggs and poultry products…

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