WSPA Put Humanely Labelled Food to the Test

US - To help consumers find and make more humane food choices at the supermarket, the World Society for the Protection of Animals has released a survey ranking 23 U.S. grocery store chains by the availability of humanely labeled food on their shelves.
calendar icon 3 July 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

WSPA also launched a Web site that provides detailed survey results and explains and rates humane food labels according to their verifiable impact on animal welfare.

"Many people prefer to buy food that comes from humanely raised animals and are willing to pay more for it," said Dena Jones, program manager for WSPA USA. "Finding these products is often challenging because most food for sale in major US supermarkets comes from animals raised under intensive confinement on large, factory-style farms. Even when consumers find humanely labeled products, interpreting what the labels mean in terms of how the animals are treated is a challenge."

"Even when consumers find humanely labeled products, interpreting what the labels mean in terms of how the animals are treated is a challenge."
Dena Jones, program manager for WSPA USA

WSPA staff and volunteers surveyed almost 200 individual stores in 34 states throughout the country including Alaska and Hawaii. They recorded the availability of humanely labeled products in four categories - dairy, eggs, unprocessed meat and poultry, and processed meat and poultry, and rated stores according to both the quantity and quality of the food selection.

Whole Foods scored highest in the survey, offering twice as many humanely labeled products per store as the company ranked second, Wegman's Food Market. Wal-Mart Stores, the world's largest food retailer, and Stater Bros. Markets, a southern California supermarket chain, scored lowest of the 23 retail companies.

To test for regional differences, WSPA compared the scores of a sub-sample of 15 New England stores -- three locations each for Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Hannaford (Delhaize America), Shaw's (Supervalu), and Stop & Shop (Ahold USA). In each case, the New England stores scored significantly higher than their national counterparts.

The new Web site rates humane food labels as "A GOOD Start," "Even BETTER," or "The BEST Options" based on the standards of animal care and whether they require third party verification. In addition to American Humane Certified, Animal Welfare Approved, and Certified Humane labeling programs run by WSPA member societies, the website also rates and explains what labels such as "natural," "free range," "USDA organic," and "cage free" really mean in terms of the way the animals raised for food are treated.

"The food-buying choices each of us makes every day have a profound impact on the lives of animals," Jones added. "We hope this survey and website will help consumers find the products they want and provide the facts they need to make more informed and humane decisions when they shop for groceries."

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