The animal activist group PETA wants to end the day when USDA puts a “humane” label on a regulated meat products.

It has filed a petition calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to amend its rules so that it no longer approves claims on labels about how animals were raised.

PETA says USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) does not regulate the on-farm treatment of animals raised for meat and bases its approval of claims like “humanely raised” or “raised in a stress-free environment” on the companies’ submissions, with no audit or supporting evidence required. 

It claims that “as a result, companies can submit claims that are entirely false or grossly misleading and still get the FSIS’ stamp of approval — and the financial motivation to do so is high.”

PETA points to unnamed studies that claim that 67 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase items labeled as “humanely raised” and that shoppers are willing to spend as much as 30 percent more on products from companies claiming to treat animals “humanely.”

PETA’s petition points to the following examples of alledged cruelty at companies that make “humane” claims on FSIS-approved labels:

  • At Plainville Farms, a PETA investigator recorded that workers kicked and stomped on scores of turkeys, tried and failed to break their necks, left them on floors to convulse and die in agony, and beat them with a rod.
  • At a hatchery owned by Maple Leaf Farms, the largest duck slaughterer in the U.S., a PETA investigator recorded that a worker dumped still-conscious day-old ducklings into a macerator.
  • At Culver Duck Farm, the second-largest duck slaughterer in the U.S., a whistleblower saw workers slitting ducks’ throats. At the same time, they were still conscious, and a PETA exposé revealed that birds were bludgeoned, decapitated, and kept in ammonia-ridden sheds.

PETA did not provide collaboration evidence that it may have from local law enforcement.

“By signing off on meaningless ‘humane’ labels, the FSIS is giving companies carte blanche to charge more for products that are just as cruel as their ‘conventional’ counterparts,” says PETA Foundation General Counsel for Animal Law Jared Goodman. “The only ‘humane’ meal is a vegan one, and PETA calls on the FSIS to stop giving the government’s stamp of approval to companies that tell well-intentioned consumers otherwise.”

PETA — whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat or abuse in any other way” — opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. 

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