Making Clear Choices about Chicken Labels
How to find poultry products that meet your preferences.
Gordon Food Service has developed the Clear Choice program to help operators find and select products that meet customer needs for cleaner, responsibly sourced and environmentally friendly products. Clear Choice organizes thousands of products across six categories of claims and third-party certifications. One of these categories, Animal Care, includes a number of attributes that relate to the safety and well-being of poultry.
- American Humane Association. AHA standards also call for a nutritious diet without antibiotics or hormones, the availability of shelter, resting areas, or space, and the ability for poultry engage in normal behaviors. Farms that meet these standards can have their poultry certified by the American Humane Association.
- Animal Welfare Approved (AWA). Certified AWA chicken comes from farms raising animals according to the highest welfare standards, which require pasture access for all animals and high-welfare slaughter species.
- Certified Humane. These certified chicken products come from farms that implement Humane Farm Animal Care standards. These include a nutritious diet without antibiotics or hormones, the availability of shelter, resting areas or space, and the ability to engage in normal behaviors.
- Global Animal Partnership (GAP). Certified GAP products come from farms where animal health, productivity, natural behaviors and emotional well-being are part of a comprehensive animal welfare program. GAP allows for five different levels of certification—the higher the number on the label, the more the animal’s environment mimics its natural environment:
Step 1 = no cages, no crates, no crowding
Step 2 = enriched environment
Step 3 = enhanced outdoor access
Step 4 = pasture centered
Step 5 = animal centered, no physical alterations
Step 5+ animal centered, entire life on same farm
The Animal Care category also encompasses such claims as Free Range, Raised without Added Hormones and Raised without Antibiotics.
Identifying products by these labels/attributes provides a greater level of transparency for operators and their customers when choosing poultry products. Keep in mind, however, that consumers don’t always modify their purchasing decisions based upon label claims or certifications. You will have to decide what works for your target customers.