Friday, May 15, 2015

Food labels

Food Labels can be deceiving.

Guide to some common eco-friendly food labels, and their meanings

Certified Humane Raised & Handled: The Certified Humane label means that the farms raising the animals met the Humane Farm Animal Care program’s standards that aim to improve humane living conditions and humane treatment during transportation and slaughter. Certified Humane standards also require prudent antibiotic use and prohibit artificial growth hormones and animal by-products in animal feed. The label does not mean that chickens and pigs went outdoors, or that beef cattle and dairy cows had continuous access to pasture for grazing

Animal Welfare Approved:  The AWA label is the only label that assures consumers that the animals were raised humanely on a family farm from birth to slaughter, with adequate and meaningful welfare protections and outdoor access. For poultry, it is one of the only animal welfare labels that requires access to pasture.

American Grass-fed:  The American Grass-fed label means that the animals were grass-fed throughout their entire lives (after weaning), with no grain ever. The animals had continuous access to pasture, and when weather conditions prevent them from grazing on pasture, they’re given a grass-based forage. The standards also prohibit antibiotics, growth hormones, and the use of certain parasitic ides.

USDA Organic: Food is grown and processed following strict federal standards designed to promote sustainability and minimize synthetic inputs in farming and production.

Food Alliance Certified: Food is produced on farms and processed in facilities that aim to meet standards addressing different areas of sustainable and responsible food production. The standards cover the following areas: reducing pesticide use through integrated pest management (rather than prohibiting all synthetic pesticides), soil and water conservation, animal welfare, wildlife and biodiversity conservation, and fair working conditions.

Non-GMO Project Verified: This seal means the product has been made without the intentional use of genetically engineered ingredients (GMOs), and that best practices were followed to prevent contamination with GMOs. Does not guarantee the product is “GMO-free.”

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Certified: Guarantees that wild seafood was caught using methods that do not deplete the natural supply. It also guarantees that fishing companies do not cause serious harm to other life in the sea, from coral to dolphins.

Fair Trade Certified: Generally means products come from farmers and workers who are justly compensated. Often found on coffee beans packages.

Rainforest Alliance Certified: Means that the farm where the product was grown meets Sustainable Agriculture Network standards, including ecosystem conservation, wildlife protection, and water conservation; also includes fair treatment and good working conditions for workers. The standards also require or encourage certain basic animal welfare practices.

Bird Friendly: This label is found on coffee, and means that the farm where the coffee is grown is certified organic and maintains canopy for diverse bird habitat. (Coffee farms typically cut many trees to increase yields from coffee crops.)

Salmon-Safe: Means farm uses agricultural practices that promote healthy streams and wetlands. The label can be found on beef, dairy, fruit, vegetables, legumes, beverages etc.

BPI Compostable: Product has been certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) to meet rigorous standards for composting, i.e. it will break down into usable compost in a reasonable amount of time in the natural environment. Compostable products are biodegradable, but with the added benefit of introducing nutrients back into the soil.

Forest Stewardship Council: The FSC label ensures that the forest/paper products used are from responsibly harvested and verified sources.

Green Seal: Ensures that a product meets rigorous performance, health, and environmental criteria. Certification backs up manufacturer’s environmental claims, and helps consumers identify products that are safer for human health and the environment.

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