Animal Welfare Approved Surpasses Other Seals; First Humane Program to
Champion Family Farms, Repudiate Double Standards in Other Labeling
Contact: Sara Hossaini of Animal Welfare Institute, 415-901-0111 ext.
338 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Just in time for the holidays, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), a
nonprofit organization with a 55-year track record of reducing the pain
and fear inflicted on animals by humans, is launching Animal Welfare
Approved, a seal for meat, poultry, dairy and eggs that features the
highest standards for the humane treatment of farm animals. More than
500 farms comply with AWI's standards, which provide consumers,
grocers, chefs and other food buyers one comprehensive seal that
differentiates the family farms that treat their animals humanely from
agribusinesses that subject animals to cruel and unnatural conditions.
"At the heart of our standards is concern and advocacy for the
animals," said Cathy Liss, president of AWI. "While many other
specialty labels may begin with the economic interests of
industrialized agribusiness in mind, Animal Welfare Approved
prioritizes each individual animal's comfort and well-being."
The standards take into account all aspects of an animal's life, from
opportunities to socialize and behave naturally to assurances of
comfort and freedom from intensive confinement. Such criteria have led
to key differences from existing standards and seals. Animal Welfare
Approved is the first seal to guarantee that humanely-labeled products
do not come from agribusinesses that raise the majority of their
animals under cruel and unnatural conditions while also rearing some
according to so- called humane standards.
"Until now, consumers have had no way to tell if their dollars were
supporting a farm that truly treats all of their animals well," said
Liss. "In a practice we call 'double standard certification,' some
outfits label products 'humane' for their adherence to certain
standards while permitting the bulk of animals to be raised using cruel
industrial practices. In so doing, the agribusiness seeks to maximize
its profits and control the market by displacing family farmers who
raise all their animals according to a high standard of welfare."
Another differentiator is that only independent family farms can earn
the Animal Welfare Approved seal. AWI's program is designed to
revitalize a culture of family-owned and managed farms, believing that
family farmers have a true connection to and stake in the health of
their animals that is lost when factory farms are run by hired hands
and distant, corporate owners.
"Family farmers are the heart of this great country. And at their heart
is a deep love and respect for the land and the animals they raise,"
said singer Willie Nelson, a longtime supporter of humane treatment of
animals. "The Animal Welfare Approved seal is a badge of honor for
family farmers, since their attention to the health and well-being of
their animals results in humane practices that is a model for all."
Other supporters range from Robert Kennedy, Jr., to actor Rosemary
Harris to top chefs such as Dan Barber (co-owner of Blue Hill
restaurant in New York City) to independent farmers across the country.
"The Animal Welfare Approved seal is one of the best things to happen
to family farms in a long while," said Frank Reese, owner of the Animal
Welfare Approved Good Shepherd Turkey Ranch in Lindsborg, Kansas. "It
is the first to distinguish birds like ours - standard bred poultry,
that is, true heritage birds - from birds who are bred for rapid growth
and suffer from skeletal deformities."
Animal Welfare Approved also prohibits cutting a portion of the beaks
off of live chickens and the tails off of live pigs, a common practice
that previous labeling programs have allowed. The Animal Welfare
Approved standards not only forbid these mutilations but also address
the root causes of the practices by requiring an enriched environment
where the animals can socialize naturally and have no fear or
stress-induced inclination to harm each other.
"I've found that most people care about buying meat from animals that
were given a good life, but they don't know what to buy and what to
avoid," said Bill Niman, founder of Niman Ranch, a network of
traditional family farms well-known for its high standards of livestock
husbandry. Farms that supply pork to Niman Ranch were the first to earn
the Animal Welfare Approved seal. "Now, the Animal Welfare Approved
seal will help consumers select products from traditional farms that
allow all their animals to move and socialize freely, breathe fresh air
and grow naturally."
Scientists, veterinarians and farmers were consulted during the
drafting of the Animal Welfare Approved standards, and AWI and its
agents inspect farms for compliance before awarding the seal. To
provide accountability, ensuring that consumers can trust the quality
of the product, AWI and its agents continue inspections after a farm
has been endorsed.
The Animal Welfare Approved standards offer clear, precise information
for farmers who wish to implement AWI's humane system for raising and
handling livestock. For a complete list of the requirements for
acceptance into the program, please visit