FSIS dismisses labeling study claims
May 16, 2014
The Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service said today that an Animal Welfare Institute report released Wednesday saying that FSIS is failing to verify the accuracy of label claims such as "humanely raised" and "sustainably farmed" on meat and poultry products sold in the United States is false.
The Animal Welfare Institute based its conclusions on documents USDA provided through a Freedom of Information Act request.
"The assertion that FSIS is not requiring substantiation of product labels is false," USDA said in a statement.
"FSIS staff reviews label submissions and requires affidavits and other substantiating documentation to ensure processors are meeting requirements and to prevent the use of misleading labels. This group asked for documents within a narrow window of dates and were provided those documents."
AWI said that "Only two of the claims approved by USDA were substantiated by anything more than a brief statement by the producer — and over 80 percent of the label claims were backed by no supporting evidence whatsoever. This lack of government oversight allows for the use of deceptive labels—confusing consumers and threatening the livelihoods of higher-welfare farmers who have earned the right to use these claims."
But an FSIS source said, "In some cases, the requests made by AWI were phrased such that the records did not appear within their parameters." F
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–The Hagstrom Report