Apologists for the meat industry say they’re merely giving people what they want — lots of meat at low prices. Adele Douglass of Humane Farm Animal Care believes it is up to American consumers to demand something more. Douglass has partnered with two of the country’s largest animal-protection groups — the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals — to develop the “Certified Humane” labeling program, which establishes some of the country’s strictest animal welfare standards for auditing producers of meat, poultry, egg, and dairy products. The American Humane Association operates a similar certification program under the label “Free Farmed.”
Certified Humane, which currently has about a dozen producers participating, conducts its own audits of slaughterhouses. While its auditors use the same standards as the food industry for evaluating cattle and pig slaughter plants, their sole interest is animal welfare. Chicken slaughter facilities applying for Certified Humane endorsement must meet specific requirements that include the appointment of at least one trained animal welfare officer responsible for making frequent checks on how animals are being handled and taking prompt action to address any problems. Certified Humane also recommends the installation of closed-circuit television to make the slaughter of chickens more transparent and allow officials not present in the kill areas to monitor the process.