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Blumenthal, Booker, Warren, & Whitehouse Call on USDA to Address Misleading Meat Labels

Claims that food products are, “humanely raised” or “sustainably farmed” are often misleading

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) wrote to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), urging the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) to address meat companies’ use of misleading food labels. The letter follows a recent Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) report showing “humanely raised” and “sustainably farmed” labels on products are often unsubstantiated and poorly vetted. 

“We are concerned USDA may need to further clarify their guidelines in order to continue carrying out their vital mission of protecting the public from misleading food labels,” the senators wrote to Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Sandra Eskin.

According to the AWI’s examination of USDA responses to nearly 100 animal-raising claims on meat products, 50 percent of label claims had no application on file and 29 percent lacked adequate substantiation. These findings follow a 2020 Office of Inspector General investigation which found that 15 percent of FSIS-approved label applications reviewed were either incomplete or inaccurate.

To provide consumers with safe and properly labeled meat and poultry products, the members called on the FDA to prevent items with potentially misleading claims from reaching store shelves.   

“Without clear labels, consumers are robbed of their ability to purchase in accordance with their values,” the senators continued. “The USDA has an obligation to ensure consumers have the information necessary to make informed choices about the products they purchase and that hardworking farmers and producers are able to compete on a level playing field.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.