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organization Archives - Greener Choices

Posts Tagged ‘organization’

America’s Most Wanted Food Labels Conference

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Consumer Reports’ Food Safety and Sustainability Center has prepared a guide to third-party certification labels commonly found on meat and poultry products. Labels have several advantages: publicly available standards, independent verification, and meaningful requirements for animal welfare that go beyond industry norms (e.g. prohibiting gestation crates, increasing living space requirements). In this way, meaningful, certified labels provide the highest level of assurance for consumers.

The Center’s guide highlights the policies of third-party labels regarding routine uses of all antibiotics, including those important in human medicine as well as animal antibiotics like ionophores, and other drugs like beta-agonists and hormones. We also review their animal welfare and farm management standards. You can use this detailed guide to make more informed decisions about the health, safety and sustainability of the meat and poultry you buy, and help move the marketplace in a better direction.

Food Labels

Americas Most Wanted

What consumers can do to take action against misleading labels. A comprehensive list of the facts about labels and the need to differentiate between the facts and the lies.

Conference

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The Organic Label on Food is highly meaningful and in manyways meets consumer expectations.It is backed by federal regulations which encourage sustainable farming practices...

What makes a good Label?

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Did you know?

Did you know?

Nearly half of consumers think the "natural" label is verified.

It isn't.

Labels

Makes a Good Label?

Generally, the best labels are seals or logos indicating that an independent organization has verified that the producer met a set of meaningful and consistent standards for environmental stewardship, animal welfare and/or social justice.

Rating labels

Criteria We Use to Evaluate Labels

When we evaluate and rate labels, we use the following criteria:

 

Labels should be backed by a set of meaningful standards. The standards should have requirements that go beyond the industry norm or basic legal requirements. These standards should be verifiable by the certifying group or another independent inspection organization.

A label used on one product should have the same meaning if it used on other products. Standards should be verifiable in a consistent manner for different products.

The organization behind a label should make information about its organizational structure, funding, board of directors, and certification standards available to the public.

Certifying organizations and their employees should not have any ties to, and should not receive any funding, sales fees, or contributions, from logo users except fees for certification. Employees of companies whose products are certified, or who are applying for certification, should not be affiliated in any way with the certifier.

All standards should be developed with input from multiple stakeholders including consumers, industry, environmentalists and social representatives in a way that doesn't compromise the independence of the certifier. Industry representatives, for example, can play an important advisory role without having direct financial, decision making or management ties to the certifier.

Certified Humane

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How Meaningful is this label

Meaningful

Is the label verified?

Yes

Is the meaning of the label consistent?

Yes

Are the label standards publicly available?

Yes

Is information about the organization publicly available?

Yes

Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

Yes

Was the label developed with broad public and industry input?

Yes

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What This Label Means

Meaningful.

The standards cover a range of requirements for the humane treatment of animals, and most requirements exceed the industry norms. For example, there are minimum space requirements and provisions for indoor housing conditions to relieve boredom and stress and maximize the animals' comfort. The standards include requirements for humane slaughter.

However, there are areas where the standards do not require more than the industry norm. Chickens and pigs are not required to be granted access to the outdoors, making it possible for chicken, eggs and pork with the Certified Humane label to come from animals that were confined indoors for their entire lifespan. The program allows for physical alterations of the animals, such as beak trimming of laying hens and teeth filing of piglets. These procedures that are typically performed to prevent aggressive behavior in confined and stressed animals.

Beef cattle are not required to be granted access to pasture and can be confined in feedlots.

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Is This Label Verified?

Yes.

Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC), the organization that develops and maintains the standards, inspects and monitors the certified farms. HFAC staff makes the final decision regarding certification.

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Is The Meaning Of This Label Consistent?

Yes.

All the requirements must be met for the product to be certified.

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Are the label standards publicly available?

Yes.

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Is information about the organization publicly available?

Yes.

Board of Directors: Yes. The members of the Board of Directors and their affiliations are listed on the website.

Financial information: Yes. The IRS Form 990 with financial information is publicly available. Major donors are not listed.

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Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

Yes.

Standards development: Yes. The Board of Directors has the final authority over the standards. The organization has a policy that prohibits board members who have or may have a conflict of interest from discussing and voting on the standards.

Verification: Yes. The organization has a policy that prohibits inspectors who have or may have a conflict of interest from inspecting the farm. The final decision regarding certification must be made by a staff member who does not have an interest in the operation.

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

Yes.

Standards development: Yes. The standards were developed by the organization’s scientific committee, which consists of academic animal welfare experts and veterinarians.Standards updates: Yes. Updates to the standards are generated by the Scientific Committee or Humane Farm Animal Care staff. The changes are shared with all producers, who are invited to submit comments. Comments are reviewed and incorporated by the Scientific Committee.

This label addresses Animal Welfare

LABEL CATEGORY

BeefEggsLambPorkPoultry

The Certified Humane label means that the farms raising the animals for meat, eggs or dairy met the Humane Farm Animal Care program’s standards that aim to improve living conditions and ensure humane treatment during transportation and slaughter.

Details

Certified Humane standards also require prudent antibiotic use and prohibit artificial growth hormones and animal by-products in animal feed. The label does not mean that chickens and pigs went outdoors, or that beef cattle and dairy cows had continuous access to pasture for grazing.

Visit the label's website

Certified Humane

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Label Standards

Bird Friendly

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How Meaningful is this label

Highly Meaningful

Is the label verified?

Yes

Is the meaning of the label consistent?

Yes

Are the label standards publicly available?

Yes

Is information about the organization publicly available?

Yes

Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

Yes

Was the label developed with broad public and industry input?

Yes

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What This Label Means

Highly meaningful.

With organic certification as a requirement and detailed requirements for canopy that supports bird habitat, the Bird Friendly standards support the concept "bird friendly." The standards require at least 40% canopy cover over the farm, a minimum number of different tree species including native species in the upper layers of the canopy, a minimum height of the canopy, vegetative buffer zones next to rivers and lakes, and soil management practices.

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Is This Label Verified?

Yes.

The label is verified by a certification agency that certifies to the USDA organic standards (since organic certification is a requirement for Bird Friendly certification). The organic certifying agency verifies the Bird Friendly requirements every three years.

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Is The Meaning Of This Label Consistent?

Yes

Complete compliance with all standards is required, and 100% of the coffee in a package with the Bird Friendly label must be certified.

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Are the label standards publicly available?

Yes.

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Is information about the organization publicly available?

Yes.

The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC) is a research unit within the Smithsonian Institution, located at the National Zoo. The Smithsonian Institution is categorized as both a government organization and a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

Board of Directors: Yes. The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center does not have its own Board of Directors, but members of the Smithsonian Institution’s Board of Directors are posted online. The standards are decided by the members of scientific staff of the SMBC, which are posted online.

Financial information: Yes. As both a government institution and a 501(c)(3), financial information is available publicly.

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Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

Yes.

Standards development: Yes. The scientific staff of the SMBC has final decision authority over the standards, and none own or have a financial interest in certified coffee farms.

Verification: Yes. The standards are verified by USDA-accredited organic certifying agencies which must be free from conflict of interest.

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

Yes.

Standards development: Yes. The standards were developed by the scientific staff of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, based on their research findings, with input from external scientists, experts producers and retailers.

Standards updates: N/A. There have been no substantial changes made to the standards since they were initially developed.

This label is on Coffee

LABEL CATEGORY

Pest ManagementSustainable AgricultureBiodiversityLow Contaminant Levels

The Bird Friendly label is found on coffee, and means that the farm where the coffee is grown is certified organic and in addition, maintains canopy for diverse bird habitat. The goal is to preserve or increase the diversity in the native and migratory bird population in and around coffee farms, which typically can cut many trees in order to increase yields from coffee crops. Because the Bird Friendly standards require organic certification, it also means that synthetic fertilizers and nearly all synthetic pesticides are prohibited.

Details

The rigorous standards behind the Bird Friendly label ensure that certified coffee farms integrate coffee cultivation into agroforestry systems and protect biodiversity (for example, by requiring a minimum canopy height and requiring some native species). In this way, the Bird Friendly label is a certified “shade grown” label. Studies have shown that shade-grown coffee farms have improved bird habitat, soil erosion control, carbon sequestration, natural pest control and improved pollination. Organic does not necessarily guarantee shade grown (while the organic standards state that organic production must conserve biodiversity, there are no specific requirements for maintaining tree canopy).

For More Information

Bird Friendly

The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center has developed the only 100% organic and shade-grown coffee certification available: Bird Friendly.

Label Standards

B Corporation Certified

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How Meaningful is this label

Meaningful

Is the label verified?

Yes

Is the meaning of the label consistent?

Yes

Are the label standards publicly available?

Yes

Is information about the organization publicly available?

Yes

Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

No1

Was the label developed with broad public and industry input?

Yes

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What This Label Means

Meaningful

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Is This Label Verified?

Yes.

Companies are certified to receive B Corporation status by the non-profit organization B Lab. Companies fill out the B Impact Assessment, and B Lab verifies the answers, including by randomly selecting 8-12 questions that were answered in the affirmative and asking the company to demonstrate those practices in more detail through documentation. In addition, 10% of certified B Corporations are selected at random each year for an on-site review.

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Is The Meaning Of This Label Consistent?

Yes.

Companies must reach a score of at least 80 points out of 200 on the B Impact Assessment. There is no requirement for increasing the score over time (continuous improvement). Companies can reach a score of at least 80 points by focusing on different social or environmental areas; for example, a company can focus heavily on one area such as community involvement and receive a high score, while receiving a low score on other criteria. However, we consider the meaning of the label to be consistent because any certified company is making a positive impact in social or environmental areas, and consumers can use the B Corporation website to search for a company and see the company’s score for each of the four areas (governance, workers, community, environment).

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Are the label standards publicly available?

Yes.

Individuals can access a preview of the B Impact Assessment online. There are different assessments for different types and sizes of companies, which are all available. Interested individuals can fill out an assessment and see the scoring.

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Is information about the organization publicly available?

Yes.

B Lab is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Board of Directors: Yes. The members of the Board of Directors are listed, along with their bios, on the website. Members of the Standards Advisory Council are also listed, but the affiliation and bios are shared for some members, but not for all.

Financial information: Yes. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, B Lab’s tax return is publicly available, but major donors are not listed.

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Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

Yes.

Standards development: The Board of Directors signs a conflict of interest statement, but the Standards Advisory Board, which develops and decides the standards, does not.

Verification: The members on the B Lab standards team, which verify the companies compliance and decide on certification, currently do not sign a conflict of interest form.

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

Yes.

Standards development: Yes. The standards are created and revised by a Standards Advisory Council with 20-22 members who represent a diversity of interests from the business, government and non-profit sectors.

Standards updates: Yes. The standards are updated every two years. The Standards Advisory Council works on the updates, considering feedback from B corporations and expert working groups that are convened for the purpose of objectively exploring needed updates. Certified companies can easily share feedback about the criteria at any time, through an online feature that encourages feedback. During the update process, the draft goes through a public comment period.

This label is on Coffee

LABEL CATEGORY

Social Responsibility

When the “B Corporation” label is found on a package of food, it means that the company that produced the food is certified by the non-profit organization B Lab to standards that encourage corporate social and environmental responsibility, transparency and accountability. B Corporation certification is designed specifically for companies and corporations that wish to create benefits for all stakeholders, not just profits for shareholders.

Details
 

Companies with "B Corporation" certification aim to benefit workers (by paying fair wages, providing benefits and training, etc.), the environment (by reducing emissions and waste, etc.), and the community (charitable giving, community service, etc.). The company also must meet accountability and transparency requirements to attain B Corporation status. The focus is not on sustainable agriculture practices per se.

Any company with B Corporation certification has also amended its governing documents and adopted a legal requirement for “benefit corporation status” in states where this status is available, which means the company is required to consider stakeholders (e.g., workers, the environment) and not only shareholders and profit in business decisions.

  1. Standards development: The Board of Directors signs a conflict of interest statement, but the Standards Advisory Board, which develops and decides the standards, does not. Verification: The members on the B Lab standards team, which verify the companies compliance and decide on certification, currently do not sign a conflict of interest form.Inconsistencies exist for poultry and eggs, personal care and cosmetics as well as inconsistencies for antibiotic use and artificial ingredient approval. 

For More Information

B Corporation Certified

B Lab is a nonprofit organization that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for goodTM. Its vision is that one day all companies compete not only to be the best in the world, but the Best for the World® and as a result society will enjoy a more shared and durable prosperity.

Animal Welfare Approved

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How Meaningful is this label

Highly Meaningful

Is the label verified?

Yes

Is the meaning of the label consistent?

Yes

Are the label standards publicly available?

Yes

Is information about the organization publicly available?

Yes1

Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

Yes

Was the label developed with broad public and industry input?

Yes

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What This Label Means

Highly meaningful.The comprehensive standards require humane treatment, living conditions and slaughter of farm animals. There are minimum space requirements for all species, including for indoor and outdoor space. The standards prohibit routine antibiotic use, animal waste products in the animals’ feed, artificial growth hormones, and other drugs given in the absence of disease, such as the growth promotant ractopamine.

It is the only animal welfare program that consistently, across species, requires meaningful outdoor access for all animals, and includes standards for ensuring that the outdoor space is well-managed. It is also the only animal welfare program that prohibits physical alterations such as beak trimming of laying hens and teeth filing of piglets. For certain other physical alterations, like castration of beef calves and piglets, there are restrictions in terms of maximum age of castration or methods used. The standards also cover humane treatment of other animals, such as prohibiting poison or leg traps for predator control.

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Is This Label Verified?

Yes.
The Animal Welfare Approved program is ISO-65 accredited and works with a team of auditors and certification staff who determine through yearly audits whether a farm meets the standards.

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Is The Meaning Of This Label Consistent?

Yes.

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Are the label standards publicly available?

Yes.

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Is information about the organization publicly available?

Yes.

AWA is a program of the Trust for Conservation Innovation’s (TCI) A Greener World Project.

Board of Directors: Yes. The members of the Board of Directors are listed on the website.
Financial information: Yes. Financial information for the Trust for Conservation Innovation, the fiscal sponsor for Animal Welfare Approved, is available.

 

 

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Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

Yes.

Standards development: The organization has an extensive conflict of interest policy that prohibits board members and staff from having an interest in a certified farm or operation. The Standards Board sets the Animal Welfare Approved standards, and includes at least one producer. As an ISO-65 accredited certifying agency, the organization adheres to conflict of interest policies for standards development.

Verification: The conflict of interest policy applies to anyone employed by the organization, including auditors on a contract basis.

The Animal Welfare Approved program does not charge a fee for audits and certification, or for any other services. This adds an additional level of independence to the label, since there is no financial gain to granting certification.

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

Yes.

Standards development: The standards were developed by a group of stakeholders including scientists, farmers, and farm animal welfare experts.

Standards updates: Updates to the standards are developed in collaboration with members of the standard committee, certified producers, and the public. Draft updates are posted on the website for public comment.

This label is on Beef

LABEL CATEGORY

Animal WelfareSustainable Agriculture

The Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) label means that animals raised for meat, dairy or eggs were raised humanely from birth to slaughter. The AWA label is the only label that assures consumers that the animals were raised on a family farm with adequate and meaningful welfare protections and outdoor access, and was treated humanely during transportation and slaughter. For poultry, it is one of the only animal welfare labels that requires access to pasture.

Details
  1. AWA is a program of the Trust for Conservation Innovation’s (TCI) A Greener World Project.

For More Information

Animal Welfare Approved

The program was founded in 2006 as a market-based solution to the growing consumer demand for meat, eggs and dairy products from animals treated with high welfare and managed with the environment in mind.

Label Standards

American Humane Association

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How Meaningful is this label

Somewhat Meaningful

Is the label verified?

Yes

Is the meaning of the label consistent?

No

Are the label standards publicly available?

Yes

Is information about the organization publicly available?

No

Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

Yes

Was the label developed with broad public and industry input?

Yes

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What This Label Means

Somewhat Meaningful.

The program’s standards do require that livestock producers meet basic welfare requirements. But the American Humane Association program does not require certain standards that consumers are likely to expect from a welfare label, and producers can be certified without fulfilling 100% of the requirements. For example, there is no requirement for outdoor access, entire flocks and herds can be treated with antibiotics if at least one animal is sick. In this way, the overuse of antibiotics on healthy animals receiving antibiotics is possible. In addition, physical alterations such as tail docking and beak trimming are allowed.

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Is This Label Verified?

Yes.

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Is The Meaning Of This Label Consistent?

No.

No. Producers do not have to meet 100% of the standards to be certified (producers need a score of 85%).

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Are the label standards publicly available?

Yes.

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Is information about the organization publicly available?

No.

No. The organization does not disclose its funders.

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Is the organization free from conflict of interest?

Yes.

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

Yes.

Yes. The standards were developed initially in 2000 by a Scientific Advisory Committee, which consisted of practitioners, farmers and ranchers, academics and veterinarians. Today, the sixteen-member Scientific Advisory Committee continues to review and revise the standards. At their annual meeting, comments are invited from farmers/ranchers and the public. Some of the experts on the Scientific Advisory Committee did not believe that the standards were strong enough, and founded a separate animal welfare certification program (Certified Humane).

This label is on Beef

LABEL CATEGORY

Animal Welfare

What This Label Means

American Humane Association

The American Humane Association label is designed to certify that farm animals involved in the production of dairy, eggs, poultry and beef are treated in a humane manner. The program is run by the American Humane Association, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1877. Livestock producers are third-party certified to a set of standards that encompass basic requirements, such as providing adequate food and clean water and ensuring that the animals are “free from pain and unnecessary stress.” However, many of the requirements in the American Humane standards mirror the conventional industry’s practices, and livestock producers do not have to meet all of the requirements to be certified.

Details

The program does not require producers to meet certain requirements that consumers may expect from a welfare label, such as providing access to the outdoors, access to fresh air and indoor enrichment that relieve boredom and allow animals to engage in natural behaviors. The standards do not prohibit physical alterations such as teeth filing and tail docking of pigs or beak trimming of chickens.The American Humane Association welfare program allows livestock producers to administer antibiotics to an entire flock or herd (at the discretion of the veterinarian — for example if at least one animal in the flock or herd is sick).
 

  1. Given concerns with standards and oversight over the last few years, CR no longer rates "organic" as highly meaningful but meaningful. However "100% Organic" is still Highly Meaningful, while "Made with Organic [Specified Ingredient]" is only somewhat meaningful.
  2. Inconsistencies exist for poultry and eggs, personal care and cosmetics as well as inconsistencies for antibiotic use and artificial ingredient approval.
  3. There have been instances where the USDA has initiated policy changes (such as materials review) which have not gone through public notice and rulemaking--which have been opposed by several groups including CR.

 

Know Your Labels

American Humane Association

Since 1877 the historic American Humane Association has been at the forefront of every major advancement in protecting children, pets and farm animals from abuse and neglect. Today we’re also leading the way in understanding human-animal interaction and its role in society.

History
Funding
Structure

Consumers Union Ban

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Call for Complete Ban

Know your Labels

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Consumer Reports

Food Safety and Sustainability

Know Your Labels

Don't fall for menu labeling traps. Make sure you know what the terms mean

The organic claim on wine can be tricky! 100% Organic, Organic, and made with Organic Grapes all have different official meanings.