By Parade@ContentKitchn, November 14, 2016
So what does that mean when it comes to buying your holiday turkey? The ASPCA offers a guide to the often-confusing labels on poultry, including turkey. Some claims are more meaningful than others:
The ASPCA gives a thumbs up to these three voluntary labeling programs:
Certified Humane: This program was created by Humane Farm Animal Care, and compliance is verified by auditors. Cage confinement, hormones and preventative use of antibiotics are prohibited. Outdoor access isn’t required for turkeys, but adequate space, enrichment (such as perches), minimum continuous dark hours and bedding are required for indoor environments. Standards extend to breeding animals, transport and slaughter.
Global Animal Partnership (GAP): Whole Foods shoppers may be familiar with this program — the grocery retailer was the first to partner with GAP on this six “step” rating program for animals raised for meat. For turkeys Step 2 represents a significant improvement over conventional standards and provides for an enriched indoor environment with minimum space and dark hours. Each additional step improves quantity and quality of space, adds enrichment, requires better, more balanced breeds and other welfare improvements. Hormones and preventative antibiotics are prohibited at all steps. Standards extend to transport but not breeding animals or slaughter. Compliance is verified by auditors.
Animal Welfare Approved (AWA): Consumer Reports has lauded AWA for setting the highest standard for livestock welfare. AWA-certified turkeys have continuous access to pasture or range. Cage confinement, hormones and preventative antibiotics are prohibited. Standards extend to breeding animals, transport and slaughter. And, of course, compliance is verified by auditors.