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Animal Welfare Approved
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LABEL REPORT CARD
How meaningful is the label? Is the label verified? Is the meaning of the label consistent? Are the label standards publicly available? Is information about the organization publicly available? Is the organization free from conflict of interest? Was the label developed with broad public and industry input?
Highly Meaningful Yes Yes Yes Yes1 Yes2 Yes
1. While most information is available, information about major donors are not made publicly available
2. The AWA has a conflict of interest policy for staff, board and working groups. While there is no conflict of interest policy for major donors, AWA does not charge farmers for verification (unlike most other certifiers) which minimizes conflict of interest, especially for those who sell AWA certified products and donate to AWA.
 
LABEL CATEGORY:
Animal Welfare
 
WHERE YOU'LL FIND THIS LABEL:

 FOOD
  • BEEF
  • DAIRY
  • PORK
  • POULTRY
  •  
     
    WHAT THIS LABEL MEANS:
    The "Animal Welfare Approved" (AWA) label is designed to ensure that cows, sheep, chickens, turkeys, geese, goats, bison and rabbits raised for meat, dairy or egg products are allowed to live natural lives that include physical and psychological well-being. For example, the animals must have access to pasture. The standards were developed by scientists, veterinarians, researchers, and farmers. Only family farmers or co-operative groups of family farmers are eligible to be AWA certified. Feeding of animal by-products and preemptive use of antibiotics is prohibited. Sick animals must be treated and can still be sold as AWA, as long as slaughter or milking is after twice the length of the prescribed withdrawal period.

    Growth promoters are prohibited under Animal Welfare Approved standards. Any physiological or psychological mistreatment of an animal, including physical injury, lack of adequate food or water, failure to treat a sick or injured animal, unnecessarily frightening or intimidating an animal or any other action that could cause suffering is prohibited from birth through slaughter. Farms are also not allowed to have split or dual production, meaning that all animals of the same species on a farm must be certified.

    All farmers wishing to have certified products must have their operations inspected by an independent Animal Welfare Approved authorized auditor before the label can be used. In the case of meat products, the slaughter facility must be inspected as well. Audits must be renewed every year. Unlike other certification programs, AWA does not receive a fee from the farmer which minimizes conflicts of interest even though they may receive funds from those that sell certified products.
     
    CONSUMERS UNION EVALUATION:
    How meaningful is the label?
    Animal Welfare Approved is a highly meaningful label that says animals raised for meat, dairy or egg production were treated humanely from birth to slaughter.

    Is the label verified?
    Yes. The standards are verified by third party auditors who have expertise in animal welfare.

    Is the meaning of the label consistent?
    Yes.

    Are the label standards publicly available?
    Yes.

    Is information about the organization publicly available?
    Yes, while most information is available, information about major donors are not made publicly available

    Is the organization free from conflict of interest?
    Yes. The AWA has a conflict of interest policy that says all staff, board and working group members of the organization will strive to avoid any conflict of interest between the interests of the organization and personal, professional, and business interests, these members can remain in the organization if a conflict is unavoidable. Conflicted members must disclose this conflict and can’t vote on relevant matters. They define conflict of interest as having a direct or financial interest in another relationship. While there is no conflict of interest policy for major donors, AWA does not charge farmers for verification (unlike most other certifiers) which minimizes conflict of interest, especially for those who sell AWA certified products and donate to AWA.

    Was the label developed with broad public and industry input?
    Yes.

     
    PROGRAM NAME:
    Animal Welfare Approved
     
    ORGANIZATION:
    Animal Welfare Approved
    www.AnimalWelfareApproved.org
     
    ORGANIZATION SUMMARY:
    HISTORY
    The non-profit Animal Welfare Institute created a separate division to provide certification and promotion of humane animal treatment on family farms, establishing the Animal Welfare Approved labeling system in 2006.

    FUNDING
    The program doesn’t charge farmers for certification or advice. Animal Welfare Approved gets its funding from foundations and individuals, which the group wouldn’t identify because they have asked to remain anonymous. The group has no written guidelines for conflict of interest on the part of donors. The organization plans to begin a fee-based membership program to support farm and slaughter plant audits. In 2011, it will receive a $5,700 donation from The Pit Authentic BBQ restaurant in Raleigh, NC. Pit BBQ does sell AWA certified meat.

    STRUCTURE
    The standards are reviewed annually by the Standards and Approval Board. The board has the sole authority to change standards. Producer representatives and secretary do not have a vote. Board members may consult and advise companies that sell AWA products, but do not obtain a fee for it.
     
    LABEL STANDARDS:
    Animal Welfare Approved Standards
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