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A deep dive into chicken labels: Criteria

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REPORT BY CRITERIA
   -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
REPORT BY LABEL
FULL REPORT: ALL CRITERIA AND LABELS

Outdoor access

The vast majority of the 9 billion chickens produced for meat in the US each year are confined indoors with tens of thousands of other birds, and no opportunity for going outdoors. While chickens can engage in certain natural behaviors indoors when given the opportunity, outdoor runs provide a much higher number and diversity of stimuli than any indoor environment can provide. Outdoors, birds can engage in natural foraging behavior, exercise and have access to natural sunlight and fresh air. Foraging is an important instinctive behavior for chickens, who spend a major proportion of their active time foraging when given the opportunity. And birds that are able to exercise have fewer leg problems such as lameness and fewer skeletal abnormalities.

Some studies also show that meat from chickens that had the opportunity to go outdoors may be better for you than meat from confined chickens, with higher levels of heart-healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Outdoor access: Criteria key

industry baseline

"Access to the outdoors" is required, but there are no standards for the size of the outdoor run, the size and accessibility of the doors to the outdoors, or the amount of time that the doors must be open. A small covered porch can count as "outdoor access."

The program ensures that birds have access to an outdoor run that is larger than a porch and is up to half the size of the indoor space. Various requirements ensure that birds have ample opportunity to access the outdoor space.

The program ensures that each chicken has at least 5 ft2 of outdoor space, or the chickens are raised in a pasture-based system.



Outdoor access: How labels stack up against criteria

CHICKEN LABELS REPORT - Criteria: Outdoor access
Label Outdoor access How label stacks up against criteria
Conventional

American Humane Association Certified

No outdoor access requirement [H page 63 of entire document]
Animal Welfare Approved

program is pasture-based; no pasture access is allowed only in emergency situations and for no more than 28 days
Certified Humane

no outdoor access requirement
Certified Naturally Grown

access to the outdoors is required; at least 5 ft2 per bird
Demeter Biodynamic

each bird must have at least 1 m2 per kg of body weight of outdoor space, which is roughly 24 ft2 per 5-pound bird.
Food Alliance

outdoor access is not required
Free Range

"access" to the outdoors is required but there are no requirements for minimum outdoor space per chicken, access to doors to go outside, or when and how long the doors must
GAP Step 1

GAP Step 2

GAP Step 3

except during inclement weather; outdoor space must be at least 25% of indoor floor space of the house
GAP Step 4

all chickens must have continuous access to outdoor run except during inclement weather; no minimum outdoor space requirement
GAP Step 5

all birds must have continuous access to the outdoors, excluding exceptional weather events
GAP Step 5+

all birds must have continuous access to the outdoors, excluding exceptional weather events
Natural or All Natural

No antibiotics administered

USDA Organic

"access" to the outdoors is required but there are no requirements for minimum outdoor space per chicken, access to doors to go outside, or when and how long the doors must be open
Vegetarian Fed or No Animal By-Products

Humanely Raised

No growth hormones

Kosher

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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