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A deep dive into chicken labels: Criteria

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   -Prudent antibiotic use
   -Prohibits growth hormones
   -Prohibits animal byproducts in the diet
   -GMOs in feed
   -Prohibits synthetic pesticides/ fertilizers in feed production
   -Prohibits synthetic amino acids
   -Limit on rapid weight gain
   -Outdoor access
   -Indoor enrichment
   -Indoor space
   -Air quality
   -Artificial light and darkness
   -Catching and crating
   -Transport time limit
   -Natural v. dim light
   -Slaughter treatment
   -Slaughter line speed

Prudent antibiotic use

Antibiotics are commonly given in chicken feed or water at low doses for long periods to promote the growth of the birds. In the 1950s studies showed that animals given low doses of antibiotics gained more weight for a given amount of feed than untreated animals. Exactly how this occurs is still greatly unknown. Recent research suggests that antibiotics may promote rapid growth by altering the naturally occurring bacteria in the animal's digestive system, which play a role in metabolism and energy harvesting.

While it leads to growth efficiency, antibiotic use in animals is a serious public health concern, as it has contributed to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms, including antibiotic-resistant food borne pathogens. In 2013, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that 23,000 human deaths could be attributed to the development of antibiotic resistance from overuse of antibiotics, including in agricultural settings, and urged that antibiotics be used only to treat disease.

Prudent antibiotic use: Criteria key

industry baseline

prohibits antibiotics for growth promotion; allows non-therapeutic use of antibiotics under certain circumstances, for example, an entire flock can be treated when one animal is sick.

prohibits all non-therapeutic use of antibiotics except for in the egg and in day-old chicks.

prohibits all non-therapeutic use of antibiotics. Sick animals must be treated with antibiotics but must undergo a specified waiting period before being sold.

Prudent antibiotic use: How labels stack up against criteria

CHICKEN LABELS REPORT - Criteria: Prudent antibiotic use
Label Prudent antibiotic use How label stacks up against criteria

American Humane Association Certified

subtherapeutic doses in feed are prohibited; antibiotics can be used for prevention of disease; entire flock can be treated and remain in the program
Animal Welfare Approved

subtherapeautic antibiotics are prohibited; antibiotics to prevent or control disease are not allowed; birds treated with antibiotics must not be slaughtered until at least twice the licensed withdrawal period has passed
Certified Humane

subtherapeutic doses in feed are prohibited; entire flock can be treated and remain in the program
Certified Naturally Grown

no animal treated with antibiotics may be sold as Certified Naturally Grown; standards based on USDA organic standards which allow antibiotic use in day-old chicks
Demeter Biodynamic

any animal treated with antibiotics must be removed from the flock and cannot be sold as certified biodynamic
Food Alliance

nontherapeutic doses in feed are prohibited; birds that are treated must wait two weeks before allowed to be sold as Food Alliance certified
Free Range

GAP Step 1

GAP Step 2

GAP Step 3

GAP Step 4

GAP Step 5

GAP Step 5+

Natural or All Natural

No antibiotics administered

no antibiotic use allowed at any point in the chicken's life
USDA Organic

antibiotic use is allowed on day 1 of the chickens' lives; no antibiotic use is allowed thereafter
Vegetarian Fed or No Animal By-Products

Humanely Raised

No growth hormones


USDA Process Verified - Never Ever 3

USDA Process Verified - Humanely Raised (National Chicken Council Welfare Standards)

Non-GMO Project Verified

See the full report with all labels and criteria

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