Most Americans don’t know the true meaning of food labels like “cage-free,” “free-range,” or “grass fed” and falsely believe that farm animals are protected by laws or independent oversight according to the results of a new national survey* released today by the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®). The survey also showed that, despite their misconceptions, approximately three quarters of consumers surveyed are concerned about the welfare of animals raised for food and are paying more attention than they were five years ago to food labels that indicate how those animals were raised.
“Americans are increasingly concerned about the welfare of farm animals and want to make a difference when shopping for food, but are understandably confused by a number of misleading or meaningless labels,” said Daisy Freund, Director, ASPCA Farm Animal Welfare Program. “Consumers are willing to pay for more humane options but need help understanding which labels provide meaningful welfare improvements for farm animals.”
Key findings of the survey:
Given consumers’ high levels of concern about animal welfare and misperceptions about common food product labels, the ASPCA today launched “Shop With Your Heart,” a new campaign to educate consumers and encourage anyone who buys meat, eggs, and dairy to seek out products that carry third-party-verified certifications including “Animal Welfare Approved,” “Certified Humane,” and “Global Animal Partnership” (Step 2 and above). The standards used by these third-party-verified programs represent a spectrum of more humane ways to raise animals – from pasture-based farming to enriched indoor environments – and farms that meet these standards offer animals significantly better lives than conditions found on conventional factory farms. “Shop With Your Heart” also encourages consumers to purchase more plant-based products.
“Shop With Your Heart” provides comprehensive educational resources including a label guide, a list of welfare-certified and widely available plant-based brands and certified farms across the country. The ASPCA also launched a video to accompany the campaign “Shop With Your Heart.”
“Our goal is to help consumers help farm animals by aligning their purchases with their values,” Freund said. “We hope that consumers will vote with their wallets and show the food industry that the only sustainable business model is one that accounts for animals’ welfare.”
There are now over 9 billion land animals raised for food in the U.S. each year, the vast majority of which exist in inhumane factory-like facilities. The ASPCA Farm Animal Welfare Program is committed to directing consumers, corporations and lawmakers toward solutions that will improve these vulnerable animals’ lives.
* Lake Research Partners designed this online survey of 1,000 American adults who purchase or consume meat, eggs or dairy products, drawn from a national sample of internet users. The survey was fielded April 1-7, 2016. The margin of error for the total sample is +/- 3.1%.
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