Help us get Fresh Direct to Carry Certified Humane® products!

We’ve received some exciting news from one of our supporters.  She recently contacted FreshDirect, an online grocery company that delivers groceries in the New York City area, and asked them to carry Certified Humane® meat, eggs and dairy products.  She told us that their response was, “if more people ask for Certified Humane® products, we will consider carrying them.”  

So, we need your help!  Anyone living in the New York City area, where Fresh Direct delivers … Can you contact Fresh Direct at service@freshdirect.com and ask them to carry Certified Humane® products?  By making your voice heard, you will be doing your part to spread the word about Certified Humane® products and make them even more widely available to consumers.  Below is a sample email you can send to Fresh Direct.  Tell your friends to contact them too!  Together, we can make a difference for farm animals.

Dear Fresh Direct,

I’m writing to ask you to carry products that are Certified Humane Raised and Handled®.  I know that products with this specific certification come from animals that were raised with strict humane standards from birth through the slaughter process.

The nation’s leading humane organizations back the Certified Humane® program and USAToday called Certified Humane® a gold standard.

This is a label that I trust and I would like to purchase Certified Humane® products from your website.  I ask that you start selling products that are Certified Humane®.  You can find more information on the Certified Humane® program at CertifiedHumane.org.

Sincerely,

Your name
Your address
City, State, Zip

Dairy Cows need your help…

Look carefully in the dairy area of your supermarkets and  you are likely to see many different egg products that are Certified Humane®.   Being Certified Humane® is a badge of honor for farmers and the grocers who sell their products.  They recognize it’s the right thing to do…. it’s also good business.

Two of the most common products in the supermarket dairy aisle are eggs and milk.  Despite the public’s increasing demand for animal products coming from animals produced humanely,  the vast majority of dairy farmers  have not felt the need to become Certified Humane®.  As a result, there are very few Certified Humane® dairy products and NO Certified Humane® milk products available in your grocer’s fridge.  Indeed, there are less than 25  cow dairy farms in the US that are certified by either Certified Humane® or Animal Welfare Approved®, the two animal welfare certification programs that have the highest standards and most rigorous and comprehensive inspection programs.

The most common explanation we’ve heard for the lack of Certified Humane® dairies is the belief of dairy farmers that the public doesn’t care.  “Where’s the demand?” we’ve heard from countless dairy farmers; supermarkets, too, are not hearing from consumers like you asking for them to supply Certified Humane® dairy products.

And they’re right – not enough consumers are making their voices heard about their desire for humanely raised dairy products.

I know that if milk producers thought the public wanted proof that they take proper care of their dairy cows and produce milk products under humane conditions — they would apply for certification.
Informed consumers want to know that the milk they provide for  their family came from cows which are not constrained in tie stalls and are free to move about,  are provided a healthy diet free from antibiotics and growth hormones like rBST,  and  are required to have access to the outdoors.  That’s what is required to be Certified Humane®.

So go to our Take Action Page to see all the ways you can help us get more dairy farmers on the program – you can download a dairy product request form here. When you go to your supermarket, hand in the request form to the grocery manager, or customer service desk.  Ask your friends and neighbors to do the same.   Let’s work together to let dairy farmers know that you do care about how dairy cows are treated.

We have revised our Animal Care Standards for Beef Cattle and Dairy Cows

For many years, we have worked with our farmers and ranchers to identify practical ways to reduce the stress and sometimes pain that beef cattle and dairy cows experience after routine husbandry practices such as castration.  Previously, there were no medications available to farmers which could be easily used in the field, or that provided effective pain control to the animals.

In June of 2011, we initiated the review and revision process of our beef cattle, dairy cattle and young dairy beef standards with a week-long meeting of dairy and beef science members of our  Scientific Committee (you can see a complete listing of the members here).  The focus of the meeting was to review and evaluate the farm animal welfare research that had been done since the last revision of the standards, and to incorporate the new findings into the standards.  When we learned of new, safer and easier to administer methods of providing animals with the needed analgesia, it was important to integrate them into the HFAC standards.

There is now an effective painkiller that can be easily administered by a farmer during routine handling, and that provides relief to the animal from the pain of procedures such as castration.  Due to this new finding, HFAC standards now require cattle to receive pain control when undergoing painful procedures.

The revised standards, which became effective January 15,  2012 are the end product of that review and revision process. The revised standards require that cattle must receive pain control when undergoing painful husbandry procedures

HFAC is the only national animal welfare organization to make pain control a key component of farm animal welfare certification standards.  We have been working to educate farmers and ranchers on how to implement the new standards and meet the requirements for providing pain control.  Our commitment is to maintain the nation’s strongest farm animal welfare standards, and the introduction of new pain control requirements illustrates that fact.

Ed Sayres, President and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and a member of the HFAC Board of Directors, notes that “once again, Certified Humane® is tackling the big issues and helping to redefine what it means to promote animal welfare, especially the humane treatment of farm animals.”

The revised standards also clarify the importance of maintaining safe and humane conditions in the transportation of animals, and prohibit the use of genetically modified or cloned animals. Additionally, the standards now include a series of scientific appendices that provide critical information to farms on topics such as temperature/humidity indexes, methods of weaning, lameness scoring for dairy cows, and body condition scoring.

A Cage is a Cage

There has been a lot of discussion in the news lately about the “enriched” cages (also  known as “colony,” “furnished” or “modified” cages) as being a good alternative housing system for laying hens.

The Humane Farm Animal Care® (HFAC) standards do not allow conventional battery cages and do not and will not allow the “enriched” cage on our program.  Here are the reasons why:

Space:  There is not enough space for laying hens to move around, or flap their wings.
Laying hens need space to move around; they need between 151 – 252 sq. inches to turn around and between 168 – 404 sq. inches to flap their wings.  Dr. Marian Dawkins’ research showed that laying hens shunned cages with ceiling heights of less than 18” in height.

  • Conventional Cages:  Those that meet the United Egg Producers (UEP) standards have between 67- 76 sq. inches (depending on the size of the birds).  There are unfortunately some producers that don’t meet the UEP standards and have cage sizes as small as 48 sq. inches per bird.  The height of the cage is generally 14.9”
  •  “Enriched” Cages: There are different configurations of “enriched” cages.  Small cages that hold 10 – 12 birds, medium cages that hold 15 – 30 birds” and larger cages that hold 60 birds.  The usable space per bird is 93 sq. inches/bird. The height of the cage is 17.7 inches
"Enriched" Cage

"Enriched" Cage

Nest Boxes:  Lack of nesting/nest box space
Laying hens are very motivated to find a suitable nest site to lay their eggs.  This is an important welfare need to prevent frustration.  When there is no nest box/nesting area, laying hens can exhibit stereotypical behaviors that indicate frustration.

  • Conventional Cages:  No nest boxes
  • “Enriched” Cages:  There is usually one small nest box for each cage. Birds are forced to compete for the site each day.  Some hens may choose to remain in the nest box even when not laying eggs in an attempt to remove herself from the other hens in the confined space of the cage, thus preventing other hens from using the nest.

Perching/ Roosting: No elevated perches
Modern hens in production have retained the strong instinct to perch. Perching on elevated perches with their flockmates is a natural behavior which helps to conserve body heat.  When hens are prevented from gaining access to an elevated perch at night they may show signs of unrest.

  • Conventional Cages:  No elevated perches
  • “Enriched” Cages:  There are no real “elevated perches” (above 16”).  The perch that is in the “enriched” cage is 2 – 3” off the cage floor which does not address the need of the birds for elevated perches.  It also may be difficult for the birds to move around the cage and may not be easily accessible for many of the birds in cage.
Bird on Perch in "Enriched" Cage

Bird on Perch in "Enriched" Cage

Dustbathing:  Not adequate litter and area to dustbathe.
Dustbathing is an important requirement for laying hens because it contributes to both the physical and behavioral needs of the birds.  Dustbathing enables the hens to recondition their feathers, remove the build-up of stale oils produced by their bodies and parasites.  Dustbathing helps laying hens maintain a comfortable body temperature.

  • Conventional Cages:  No dustbathing
  • “Enriched” Cages:  There is not sufficient depth or size area for the hens to actually toss, rub and shake the litter through her feathers (in other words, dustbathe).

Laying Hens that are Certified Humane®:  Barn raised, aviaries, free range and pasture raised housing systems are allowed in the Certified Humane® program. (click here for more information and photos of laying hen housing and free range requirements)

All of these systems require that:

  • All hens have freedom of movement so they can space themselves in such away to allow individual hens to move from others;
  • All hens have sufficient room to exercise, stretch and flap their wings;
  • All hens can gain access to all the different facilities without difficulty;
  • Considerably more nest boxes are available to hens allowing the hens to gain access to the nest box of their choice.
  • Hens have perches are available to the hens that are high (elevated at least 16” off the ground) and low that do not detract from the overall floor area.
  • Hens are provided with enough space and access to litter to be able to dustbathe where and when they choose.

 

Subject: Do you believe our government should protect our food supply? If you do, read further…

Protecting our food supply consists of methods of inspection and testing not only what we grow and slaughter and ship from state to state, here at home, it’s also about inspecting and testing the food we import from other countries as well.

There are two federal agencies that are primarily responsible for Food Safety in the US and for the food that is imported into the US.  That is the USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In January the US food safety laws were amended to improve the prevention of foodborne illness.  The new law would allow the FDA to conduct more inspections of domestic and foreign food producers, and work more closely with the USDA and state inspection agencies.   The new act was to add 1800 new food safety inspectors.

The USDA has inspectors in meat and poultry slaughter plants and processed egg facilities.  These are the inspectors (veterinarians) who examine the animals to make sure diseased animals do not get put in the food supply and check for salmonella in processed products.

On the 16th of June, the House Appropriations passed legislation by a 217-203 vote that would eliminate the necessary funds for the FDA to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act. And cut funding for the already under funded Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) so they would have to start firing food safety inspectors.

We all remember the baby formula scandal of product from China along with the imported pet food safety issues.   There is a serious outbreak of e-coli in Germany right now.  This could have been us, but for our food safety system that is currently in place.

The Chairman of the Appropriations House Subcommittee, Jack Kingston (R-GA) said, “The food supply in America is very safe because the private sector self-polices, because they have the highest motivation.  They don’t want to be sued, they don’t want to go broke. They want their customers to be healthy and happy.”

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 28,000 Americans are hospitalized every year and 3,000 die every year from tainted food.
Even the Grocery Manufacturers of America are in support of doubling the FDA’s food safety budget, in light of the recent food scandals.
Rep. Kingston also claims the high level of food safety is due to the private sector without the “nanny” state.  “That’s the private sector working,” he’s quoted as saying.

In reality, do you want to risk your life and the lives of your families on Rep. Kingston’s fantasy?  We saw the result of   de-regulation and lack of oversight in the financial sector, as we watched homes being foreclosed and savings and pension plans evaporating

If you want the FDA and the Food Safety Inspection Service at USDA fully funded, please write your Senators and let them know they need to put the funding back to provide us with safe food oversight. http://www.senate.gov/

If you want to contact your Representatives and thank those that voted against this bill, and chastise those that supported it, here is the list:  http://www.house.gov/representatives/
All Democrats voted against the legislation
The following Republican Representatives voted against the legislation as well:
Rep. Justin Amash (Michigan)
Rep. Michele Bachman (Minnesota)
Rep. Joe Barton (Texas)
Rep. Paul Broun (Georgia)
Rep. John Campbell (California)
Rep. John Duncan (Tennessee)
Rep. Stephen Fincher (Tennessee)
Rep. Jeff Flake (Arizona)
Rep. Trent Franks (Arizona
Rep. Morgan Griffith (Virginia)
Rep. Walter Jones (North Carolina)
Rep. Steve King (Iowa)
Rep. Tom McClintock (California)
Rep. Jeff Miller (Florida)
Rep. Kristi Noem (South Dakota)
Rep. Ron Paul (Texas)
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (California
Rep. ave Schweikert (Arizona)

Legislation Information:
Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012
Rep Kingston, Jack [GA-1] (introduced 6/3/2011)
House Report #: 112-101
Passed the House of Representatives on 6/16/11 by a vote of 317 – 203
6/16/2011 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Appropriations

The Power of the Consumer – Thank You!

Thank you so much for voting with your voices as well as your pocketbooks!  Your response to the blog post  about The Pump restaurant in NYC really had an impact.  We received  hundreds of emails from you letting us know you wrote to The Pump, asking them why they’d stopped buying Certified Humane® chicken, and informing them that you would not be eating there again.  Several of you started a discussion topic on The Pump’s Facebook page, and many of you posted on their blog. The response was so big that The Pump had to write a second post “attempting” to address these concerns, and then a third.  The Pump did not post many of your comments to their blog page.  That is unfortunate.   As you can see, you do have a big impact in the marketplace by making your voices heard. Thank you so much to all of you who participated in the discussion!

To keep the momentum going, don’t forget that there are many more ways to take action and support Certified Humane®. You can download a Grocer Request Form and take it to the grocery stores and supermarkets in your area, asking them to carry Certified Humane® products.  You can also start a petition to get a specific company to become Certified Humane® or to get a specific retailer to stock Certified Humane® products.  Of course, to stay in touch you can sign up for our newsletters and “like” us on Facebook. Most importantly, you can “vote with your pocketbook” and buy products that are Certified Humane® – visit our Where to Buy section on our website to find retailers in your area!

Together, we will make a difference!

Adele

Certified Humane® vs. Factory Farming

The “Pump” a restaurant chain in New York City has switched from buying Murray’s Chicken (one of our Certified Humane® producers) to purchasing commodity chicken.  That of course is their prerogative, however they are implying that the commodity chicken is special and that Murray’s is the commodity product.

Previously on their blog when they announced this, they said that Murray’s buys chickens from local farms and then processes and markets the chickens themselves.  “This isn’t bad per se – it’s actually quite common in the poultry business.”  They then proceed to describe the commodity chicken from the industrial chicken farms as being “grown and prepared for market at one location from birth to sale.”

Murray’s does buy chickens from small local farms and then processes them in their processing plant and markets the chickens themselves.  They are a Certified Humane® company which means their farms and processing plant are inspected annually to make sure they meet the highest humane standards for all aspects of their operations. Murray’s buys from small family farmers not contract growers. Their birds get the dark period they need to sleep so their growth is slowed and they don’t go to slaughter until they are older than commodity birds.

We’ve inspected the local farms Murray’s buys their chickens from and can attest to the treatment of these birds.  What Murray’s does is uncommon in the poultry business.  They are one of two Certified Humane® poultry producers in the US.   Murray’s is not an “integrated operation.”  “Integrated operations” are what is common in the poultry business in the US.

The “Pump’s” customers should be given the truth about the new chickens they are buying – common industrial chicken, commodity birds grown in integrated commercial systems, otherwise known as “Factory Farming.” The “Pump’s”  new supplier has breeding facilities, hatchery facilities, feed mills and processing plants.  Their operations include a farming division that has 28 company-owned farms for the chickens and more than 300 other farms.

The new supplier’s website says they employ over 2200 people, have farms in Maryland, Delaware, and North Carolina and process 2.2 million birds per week and pack about 10 million pounds of finished products per week.

Murray’s process less than 10% of the number of birds that their new supplier processes weekly.

They have changed their blog to say, their new supplier “is not commodity chicken, and as such, these birds have been raised and held to higher standards.”  Whose  higher standards have they been raised to?

I have already written to Elizabeth Kellogg of the Pump.  It is important for people not to be fooled by PR “spin” like this. Why don’t you  contact the “Pump” and let them know that you support Certified Humane® producers and products and that you are disappointed that they don’t.

Adele