The 'Fowl' Practice Of Humane Labeling: Proposed Amendments to Federal Standards Governing Chicken Welfare and Poultry Labeling Practices

Author:LaTravia Smith
Position:Latravia Smith is a LL.M. candidate at Vermont Law School, currently enrolled in the Environmental Law program. Latravia earned her Juris Doctor from Florida A&M University College of Law (FAMU) where she graduated cum laude and received a certificate in International Human Rights and Global Justice. During law school, she worked as an honors...
Fall 2017
the “fowl” practice of humane labeling:
propoSeD amenDmentS to feDeral StanDarDS
governing chicken welfare anD poultry
labeling practiceS
By LaTravia Smith*
Chickens raised specically for meat production are the
world’s most intensively farmed land animals. Yet, the
existing legal frameworks that regulate the production
and labeling of poultry products in the United States allow poul-
try producers to mistreat chickens, falsely distinguish poultry
products, and defraud conscious consumers. This article pro-
poses unique opportunities to improve poultry welfare in the
United States’ agricultural industry and offers methods to ensure
the accurate labeling of poultry products.
I. IntroductIon
“Chickens, whether intelligent or stupid, individual or iden-
tical, are sentient beings. They feel pain and experience fear.
This, in itself, is enough to make it wrong to cause them pain
and suffering.”1
Called “broilers” in the poultry industry, chickens raised
specically for meat production are the world’s most inten-
sively farmed land animals.2 Around 9 billion broilers are
raised for slaughter yearly.3 Broilers are “fed for abnormally
fast growth without consideration for their well-being.”4 For
instance, a broiler weighing 5.7 pounds can be produced in just
forty-seven days.5
Studies have shown that chickens possess significant
cognitive skills parallel to the abilities of some mammals.6
Contrary to popular belief, chickens are intelligent, brave, and
sentient beings7—capable of emotion,8 numeracy, and self-
control.9 Chickens possess more than twenty vocalizations to
communicate, including: predator alerts; mother/baby calls;
mating calls; and even calls to communicate the discovery
of food.10
In the past fty years, farming operations in the United
States have shifted away from small family farms and individ-
ualized production to mass production, commonly known as
factory farming.11 These massive, mechanized “megafarms,”
also referred to as concentrated animal feeding operations
(CAFOs), are more concerned with prot and efciency to the
detriment of an animal’s welfare.12 Living conditions for chick-
ens in CAFOs are unnatural and inhumane.13 The minimum
size threshold for broiler chickens in a large CAFO consists
of “125,000 or more” chickens.14 According to the Council for
Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST), the minimum
space required for a broiler is one-half square-foot per bird.15
The National Chicken Council (NCC) requires a mere eight-
tenths of a square-foot of space per bird.16 NCC’s guidelines
are indeed in excess of the minimum requirement by CAST,
which requires one-half of a square-foot to maneuver, how-
ever, conned chickens under either requirement spend their
lives packed wing-to-wing on oors covered in waste.17 With
little room to spread their wings, it is difcult for chickens to
engage in natural behaviors, resulting in physical and mental
distress, including crippling bodily injuries.18
The conditions in CAFOs have signicant impacts on ani-
mal welfare and human health.19 As consumers become aware
of the modern husbandry practices of some of today’s farmers,
there has been an increase in demand for improved animal wel-
fare.20 To help lessen the impact of the inhumane practices of
the animal agricultural industry,21 some consumers are willing
to pay premium prices for “humane” meats.22 Some consumers
feel that if they pay just a little more they can “have their meat
and eat it too.”23 The leading animal welfare regulations (i.e.,
Animal Welfare Act, Humane Slaughter Act, and Twenty-Eight
Hour Law) do not provide legal denitions for terms like “wel-
fare” or “humane.”24 There is no specic set of animal welfare
standards to substantiate welfare-related labeling claims.25
Furthermore, the Animal Welfare Act denition of “animal”
does not include animals raised for food.26
Some companies have exploited the increase in consumer
demand for the humane treatment of animals to increase their
profits.27 By simply labeling their products as “humanely
raised,”28 some companies are able to falsely distinguish their
products and charge consumers premium prices.29 There have
been instances when “humanely raised” chickens have endured
* Latravia Smith is a LL.M. candidate at Vermont Law School, currently enrolled
in the Environmental Law program. Latravia earned her Juris Doctor from Flor-
ida A&M University College of Law (FAMU) where she graduated cum laude
and received a certicate in International Human Rights and Global Justice. Dur-
ing law school, she worked as an honors law clerk for the Environmental Pro-
tection Agency’s National Enforcement Training Institute in Washington, D.C.
She also worked as a Research Assistant for Dean Randall S. Abate. Latravia
received a fellowship from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration
and was recognized as a Next Generation Leader by the American Constitution
Society. She also attended Stetson University College of Law Summer Study
Abroad program where she studied Comparative Animal Law.
18 Sustainable Development Law & Policy
the same deplorable treatment as the average factory farmed
chicken.30 Meanwhile, purchasers of these so-called “humanely
raised” chickens are being deceived by packaging labels and led
to believe “all is well in the mythical world of humane animal
agriculture.”31 False labeling is not only a problem for the poul-
try industry, but also for consumers and organizations that buy
and sell organic products.32
Food labels are of great importance to consumers and pro-
ducers because the information on food labels helps consumers
make educated and informed decisions.33 Labels allow companies
to advertise the benets of their products to their target market.
For some companies, food labels are the sole method to connect
and engage with consumers.34 The use of value-added animal
welfare claims on products produced from animals raised under
conventional factory farming animal welfare standards exploits
the time, money, and resources of companies that actually exer-
cise humane care for their animals and properly label their prod-
ucts.35 Dishonest companies prot at the expense of the animals,
consumers, and to the detriment of the humane farming industry.36
Class action lawsuits have been led on behalf of consum-
ers against poultry producers for deceptively advertising their
poultry products as “humanely raised.”37 However, instead of
implementing humane reforms, some producers simply agreed
to remove the deceptive labeling from their product packaging.38
Consumers prevailed in the sense that they are no longer being
deceived by some companies, yet the paramount problems at the
heart of the “humanely raised” movement still exist.39 Farm ani-
mals continue to live and die in deplorable conditions. The United
States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has yet to promulgate
laws protecting poultry from inhumane treatment, and the label-
ing laws governing poultry products remain inadequate.40 In
order to truly resolve this issue, there must be federal regulatory
reform regarding animal welfare, specically the implementation
of poultry labeling laws and independent oversight.
Section I of this article provides a glimpse into the inhumane
life and death of a Perdue Farms’ broiler chicken. It also offers
evidence of a company’s willingness to remove misleading
labeling without resolving the underlying problem of its inhu-
mane factory farming practices.41 Although this article focuses
solely on one chicken producer, Perdue Farms, Perdue’s poultry
husbandry practices are common throughout the broiler chicken
industry.42 Section II addresses the lack of poultry protection
under existing federal legislation. It also examines the loopholes
in the current regulation of labels on poultry products.43 Section
III of this article examines the deciencies of the early years of
the “organic movement” in relation to the “humane movement.”
Next, it briey discusses how the organic industry regulated
industry-wide organic standards resulting in a more accurate and
unied certication process. Additionally, it explores the ben-
ets derived from being “certied” organic.
Section IV proposes three potential solutions to improve
poultry welfare in the agricultural industry: rst, amending
existing federal animal welfare laws to include poultry; sec-
ond, establishing methods to ensure the accurate labeling of
poultry products including specic guidelines and third-party
verication of animal welfare related labeling claims; and third,
encouraging voluntary compliance with poultry welfare and
labeling laws through incentives.
II. “humanely raIsed” labels can
deceIVe consumers
This section explores the unveiled truth behind Perdue
Farms’ misleading “humane” labeling. The need for increased
poultry welfare standards is demonstrated through an exami-
nation of the life and death of Perdue chickens advertised as
“humanely raised.” Although this discusses Perdue’s agreement
to remove “humanely raised” from its poultry products, it also
shows the company’s petition to replace the phrase with another
deceptive phrase—indicating the need for a more stringent
poultry labeling process. Finally, this section unveils Perdue’s
upcoming proposal to improve their animal welfare practices
and briey examines the effectiveness of their voluntary pledge.
a. the truth about perDueS “humanely raiSeD
chickenS expoSeD
Perdue Farms is a top international food and agricultural
producer, providing products and services in over seventy
countries.44 With annual sales in excess of $6 billion,45 Perdue
ranks third in poultry industry sales.46 Perdue advertised its
Harvestland brand of chicken as “humanely raised” and “USDA
process veried” when it charged consumers premium prices
for the purportedly humane meat.47 Perdue Farms’ “humanely
raised” claims were based on The National Chicken Council’s
guidelines, a trade group for the chicken industry,48 whose mem-
bers consist of chicken producers and processors, fowl proces-
sors, distributors, and allied industry rms.49 According to the
NCC, proper treatment of animals is an ethical obligation.50
Poultry packaging stamped with the USDA’s approval and
enhanced with phrases such as “humanely raised”51 would lead a
reasonable consumer to believe that a Perdue Farms’ Harvestland
“humanely raised” chickens lived a “comfortable avian middle-
class” lifestyle.52 “Doing the right thing is things like treating your
chickens humanely,” says Jim Perdue, the Chairman of Perdue
Farms, in a promotional video for the company.53 In the promo-
tion, Jim Perdue is featured taking a stroll through an immaculate
chicken farm.54 The advertisement displayed healthy-looking,
active, unsoiled chickens, walking around, eating and drinking in
a spacious facility with lots of room to move about.55
After almost twenty-two years of raising broiler ocks
for Perdue, Craig Watts—a former farmer for Perdue Farms—
became frustrated at Perdue’s lack of interest in the welfare of
the chickens.56 He decided to expose the truth behind Perdue’s
“humane” labeling claims by allowing Compassion in World
Farming, a farm animal advocacy group, to lm inside his
North Carolina farm, where he raised approximately 720,000
chickens for Perdue every year.57 Perdue claimed that the farmer
was negligent in caring for his ocks; however, the director of
Compassion in World Farming performed an independent analy-
sis and determined Watts was following Perdue’s guidelines “to
the letter.”58
Fall 2017
1. The inhumane liFe oF “humanely raised” ChiCkens
Watts’ farm contained over 30,000 chickens crammed wing-
to-wing on the oor of a dark, windowless grow-out house.59
According to Watts, sometimes years will pass before the barn
oor is cleaned for a new ock.60 Processed at only eight to ten
weeks of age,61 broilers are genetically manipulated to rapidly
produce large pieces of meat,62 which results in numerous health
and welfare problems.63 Fast growth has been referred to “in
both magnitude and severity, the single most severe, systematic
example of man’s inhumanity to another sentient animal.”64
At the time of hatch, a broiler chicken weighs an average of
forty grams, and can weigh about 4,000 grams by the time they
are only eight weeks old.65 “If humans grew at a similar rate,
a 3 [kilogram] (6.6 [pounds]) newborn baby would weigh 300
[kilograms] (660 [pounds]) after 2 [months].”66 Unfortunately,
the skeletal structure of a broiler is unable to support this hasty
growth.67 Many suffer from skeletal abnormities, including leg
deformities, which cause lameness and make it difcult to stand
and walk, thereby making it often impossible for these creatures
to access food and water.68 They spend an inordinate amount of
time squatting to alleviate the strain on their debilitated legs.69
As a result, the bellies and chests of almost all the chickens on
Watts’ farm feature raw, featherless esh resembling bedsores,
presumably due to ammonia burns from continuous squatting in
their own waste.70
In addition to skeletal abnormalities, accelerated growth
contributes largely to a vast number of health conditions includ-
ing: cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease,71 and big liver
spleen disease.72 Acute death syndrome is also common in fast-
growing broiler chickens.73 Broilers frequently die suddenly
of heart attacks or collapsed lungs due to ascites, a condition
in which the heart and lungs cannot sufciently support an
overgrown body.74 The poultry industry casually refers to this
condition as “ip over disease,”75 because after wing-apping
convulsions, chickens “ip over” and die.76 These health con-
ditions are rarely experienced by chickens living in a natural
environment.77 Based on a study by the University of Georgia,
poultry farmers typically experience a 3% death rate per ock.78
Thus, a farm that has 30,000 chickens per ock will experience
a death rate of about 900 chickens per ock.79
The pain and discomfort chickens endure because of their
genetic makeup is compounded by the inhumane living condi-
tions in which Watts’ broilers were raised.80 When crammed
together, chickens relentlessly peck each other out of boredom
and frustration, resulting in loss of feathers, injuries, and even
death.81 Dead chicken carcasses are often left among the living,
adding to the stressful and unsanitary living conditions.82 The
high ammonia levels from the waste irritate and burn their eyes,
skin, and throat.83 To reduce the effects of connement, chickens
are often forced to undergo a series of mutilations, including the
partial removal of beaks and toes.84 These painful procedures
are typically performed without anesthesia.85
2. deaTh oF a broiler
In the United States, approximately nine billion chickens
and other poultry are slaughtered for consumption each year.86
The journey from the chicken farm to the slaughterhouse can
be hundreds of miles long.87 The Twenty-Eight Hour Law
Regulating the Interstate Transportation of Livestock prohib-
its the connement of animals in vehicles of vessels for more
than twenty-eight consecutive hours without food, water, and
rest when being transported across state lines for slaughter.88
However, the Twenty-Eight Hour Law excludes poultry.89 Thus,
chickens on their way to slaughter could remain cramped in
their crates through extreme temperatures without food, water,
or rest.90
Upon arrival at the slaughterhouse, the broilers are often
stunned to incapacitate them in an Electric Immobilization
System, a low electricity water bath.91 Sadly, many birds remain
conscious due to inadequate stunning.92 After being dipped in the
stunning tank, the birds’ throats are cut by a mechanical blade.93
Finally, broilers are dipped into scalding-hot water to remove
their feathers.94 These birds often defecate in the scalding tanks,
contaminating the birds that follow, which are then condemned
due to adulteration and cannot be sold.95 As previously men-
tioned, Perdue based its “humanely raised” claims based on the
animal welfare guidelines established by the NCC.96 However,
as evidenced by Watts’ farm, these conditions are not quite what
the reasonable consumers would consider to be humane.97
b. Deceptive aDvertiSement SuitS leaDS to
removal of labelS
In response to Perdue falsely advertising its chickens as
“humanely raised,” two class action lawsuits were led by
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) on behalf
of New Jersey and Florida customers who purchased Perdue
Farms’ Harvestland chicken.98 The plaintiffs alleged that Perdue
preyed on consumers’ increasing sensitivity to animal cruelty
and charged premium prices for so-called “humanely raised”
chickens that were in reality subjected to extreme pain and harsh
living conditions.99 Perdue rejected the allegations and insisted
its labels were not misleading.100 Nevertheless, Perdue agreed
to remove the labels from its packaging.101 In exchange, the
HSUS agreed to dismiss with prejudice the Complaint alleging
misleading labeling claims.102
In a similar class action lawsuit, consumers alleged Kroger,
one of the world’s largest supermarket chains, misled consumers
and violated California consumer protection laws by ironically
falsely labeling it Simple Truth brand chicken.103 Kroger labeled
its Simple Truth chicken as cage-free, insinuating their chickens
were superior to competitors even though broiler chickens raised
for meat are not raised in cages.104 Perdue Farms is the chicken
supplier for Kroger.105
After much unfavorable media coverage, Perdue unveiled
it will begin overhauling its animal welfare practices.106
Accordingly, Perdue plans to improve the conditions on its
broiler farms to allow their chickens to live higher quality
lives.107 Perdue will install windows in their grow-out houses,
20 Sustainable Development Law & Policy
provide more space in their barns, and put their chickens to sleep
before slaughter.108 In addition, Perdue “may tinker with breed-
ing to decrease the speed at which birds grow or to reduce their
breast size, steps that could decrease the number and severity of
leg injuries.”109 Unfortunately, there are no regulations to guide
the poultry producer, thus they are left to regulate themselves in
accordance with their own volition.110
III. the lack oF exIstIng legal ProtectIon
For Poultry
In the United States, chickens are raised and slaughtered
for food more than all other farm animals combined,111 yet they
lack protection under federal and state laws.112 For instance, a
veterinarian from the USDA allowed the owners of Ward Egg
Range, an egg farm in San Diego County, California, to dispose
of over 30,000 live spent egg-laying hens by tossing them into
a wood-chipper.113 The District Attorney referred to the use of a
wood-chipper to dispose of live spent hens as “following profes-
sional advice” and refused to prosecute the owners.114 Tossing
live chickens into a wood chipper did not violate any federal or
state laws; therefore, no crime was committed.115
This section examines the lack of coverage for poultry under
existing federal animal welfare legislation and poultry labeling
laws. It then discusses the relevant regulatory agencies and the
roles they play in the regulation of poultry products. Finally,
it examines federal initiatives that have been taken to improve
poultry production and labeling practices.
a. lack of coverage unDer the animal
welfare act
The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) provides that “minimum
standards of care and treatment be provided for certain animals
bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commer-
cially, or exhibited to the public.”116 It authorizes the Secretary
of Agriculture to regulate “transport, sale, and handling” of spe-
cic covered animals.117 The AWA’s denition of “animal” was
amended in 1970 to “include warm-blooded animals generally
used for research, testing, experimentation or exhibition, or as
pets . . . .”118 However, despite being warm-blooded,119 chick-
ens and other animals farmed for food and ber lack protection
under this law.120
b. the uSDaS failure to require the humane
Slaughter of poultry
The Humane Slaughter Act of 1958 (HMSA or “Act”) was
designed to decrease the suffering of livestock during slaugh-
ter.121 In drafting the HMSA of 1958, Congress declared:
[T]he use of humane methods in the slaughter of live-
stock prevents needless suffering; results in safer and
better working conditions for persons engaged in the
slaughtering industry; brings about improvement of
products and economies in slaughtering operations; and
produces other benets for producers, processors, and
consumers which tend to expedite an orderly ow of
livestock and livestock products in interstate and for-
eign commerce.122
The HMSA of 1958 contains three principal provisions.
First, the Act species that “cattle, calves, horses, mules, sheep,
swine, and other livestock . . . are rendered insensible to pain
by a single blow or gunshot or an electrical, chemical or other
means that is rapid and effective, before being shackled, hoisted,
thrown, cast, or cut.”123 The HMSA of 1958 did not dene the
phrase “other livestock.”124 Second, the HMSA authorized the
Secretary of Agriculture “to designate methods of slaughter and of
handling . . . with respect to each species of livestock.”125 Third,
in an enforcement provision that was later repealed and replaced
in 1978, the HMSA of 1958 prohibited the federal government
from purchasing inhumanely slaughtered livestock.126 Congress
amended the HMSA of 1958 with a more general, yet stronger
enforcement mechanism, the HMSA of 1978.127 The amendment,
a separate and distinct law from the HMSA of 1958,128 required
“that meat inspected and approved be produced only from live-
stock slaughtered in accordance with [the Act].”129
In 1978, provisions of the HMSA of 1958 were incorpo-
rated into the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) making
humane slaughter of livestock mandatory for all federally
inspected slaughterhouses engaged in interstate commerce.130
The HMSA of 1978 eliminated the reference to “other live-
stock” and instead provided a list of animals to which the
humane standards applied.131 The list was limited to “cattle,
sheep, swine, goats, horses, mules, and other equines,” explic-
itly excluding poultry.132 The incorporation of the HMSA of
1958 provisions into the FMIA made FMIA’s criminal penal-
ties applicable to facilities that failed to comply with humane
slaughter requirements.133
In 2005, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the
public health agency within USDA, issued a Federal Register
Notice titled “Treatment of Live Poultry Before Slaughter.”134
In the Notice, the FSIS acknowledged that employing humane
methods of handling and slaughtering poultry decreases the
likelihood of adulteration.135 Nevertheless, the FSIS announced,
“there is no specic federal humane handling and slaugh-
ter statute for poultry” thus declaring that the HMSA did not
require the humane handling and slaughtering of poultry.136 It
simply recommended that poultry be treated humanely to avoid
In response to the Notice issuance, the HSUS led suit
against the USDA.138 The HSUS alleged that the Notice was
erroneous because the 1958 HMSA, as applied to “other live-
stock,” was valid and included poultry.139 The HSUS alleged,
as a result of the Notice, the majority of animals slaughtered for
consumption in USDA-inspected slaughterhouses lacked fed-
eral protection. Consequently, poultry processors were granted
permission to slaughter poultry inhumanely without violating
federal law.140 The USDA denied having the legal authority to
protect poultry under the HMSA.141 The agency asserted that
the meaning of “other livestock,” was ambiguous as to both
the statutory text and the legislative history.142 In vacating the
Fall 2017
district court’s decision due to lack of standing, the Ninth Circuit
noted that “[c]ongressional debate revealed views favoring both
interpretations . . . one that would include chickens, turkeys,
and other domestic fowl within its expanse and one that would
preclude such inclusiveness.”143 This language indicates the
USDA may indeed have the authority to include poultry under
the HMSA.144
c. legal loopholeS in poultry labeling lawS
The USDA is responsible for ensuring that “poultry
products distributed to them are wholesome, not adultered,
and properly marked, labeled, and packaged.”145 The FSIS is
charged with inspecting poultry products capable for human
consumption,146 and establishing the poultry product labeling
policy to ensure that products are not mislabeled.147 The FSIS
derives its authority to regulate poultry product labeling under
the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA), implemented by the
Secretary of Agriculture.148
Congress enacted the PPIA of 1957 in response to the
signicant growth in the poultry industry.149 Modeled after the
FMIA, the PPIA expressly recognized that as a fundamental
source of the nation’s food supply, it is necessary to the health
and welfare of consumers to ensure poultry products that enter
or substantially affect commerce are “wholesome, not adulter-
ated, and properly marked, labeled, and packaged.”150 Congress
acknowledged the effects that mislabeled poultry products have
on the market; the potential to undermine the regulation of inter-
state commerce; and the resulting harm to consumers and public
welfare alike.151 As a result, poultry product labels must be
approved before being applied to poultry products and offered
for sale.152 Like the FMIA, violators of the PPIA face suspen-
sion of mandatory inspection, imprisonment of up to one year, or
a ne of up to $1,000.153 The PPIA also allows for imprisonment
up to three years, and/or a ne of up to $10,000 if there is “intent
to defraud” or adulterated products are involved.154
One of the key provisions of the statute states, “no person
shall . . . sell, transport, offer for sale . . . in commerce . . . any
poultry products which are capable of use as human food and
are adulterated or misbranded . . . .”155 According to the PPIA, a
poultry product is considered adulterated:
if it consists in whole or in part of any lthy, putrid,
or decomposed substance or is for any other reason
unsound, unhealthful, unwholesome, or otherwise unt
for human food; if it has been prepared, packed, or
held under insanitary conditions whereby it may have
become contaminated with lth, or whereby it may
have been rendered injurious to health; if it is, in whole
or in part, the product of any poultry which has died
otherwise than by slaughter.156
For example, poultry that arrives at the slaughterhouse post-
mortem would be considered adulterated and thus condemned.157
Bruising may also result in condemnation.158 According to the
FSIS, bruises are more likely to occur when birds are treated
The causal connection between inhumane treatment and
adulterated poultry led the FSIS to develop a directive instruct-
ing Public Health Veterinarians (PHVs) and inspection program
personnel on “how to perform ante-mortem and post-mortem
inspection of poultry and of the conditions under which the
birds are processed,” to assist in preventing adulterated poultry
products from entering commerce.160 The directive outlines the
operating procedures that federal poultry plants (FPP) must fol-
low to “ensure sanitary processing, proper inspection, and the
production of poultry products that are not adulterated.”161
Per the directive, processors are required to handle all live
birds humanely, in accordance with good commercial practices
(GCP).162 However, the FSIS neglected to develop GCP guide-
lines for producers to follow and failed to implement adequate
oversight to ensure compliance.163 Relying instead upon stan-
dard poultry industry practices,164 the FSIS simply addressed the
verication process as it related to GCP for processing poultry
based on the company’s GCP records.165
Compliance with these requirements is supposed to ensure
that poultry are treated humanely.166 However, per the direc-
tive, establishments are not required to keep or maintain GCP
records.167 If an establishment does not keep or maintain GCP
records, or the records lack sufcient information to deter-
mine whether the establishment is following GCP, inspection
personnel are to observe the FPP’s poultry line process.168 If
inspection personnel determine that the establishment is not
following GCP—for instance, they observe mistreatment or
birds dying by means other than by slaughter—they merely
document the violation on a Noncompliance Record (NCR) and
meet with the FPP to discuss remedial plans on behalf of the
establishment.169 Between the aforementioned shortcomings
of this seemingly comprehensive existing legal framework and
the minimal disincentives for violators, FPPs have little reason
to abide by the GCP.170
Oversight of GCP in FPPs is “infrequent and uneven among
USDA eld ofces.”171 Even though the USDA’s policy is to audit
all the FPP’s over an eighteen-month period, “only 21% of federal
poultry plants received a formal GCP review.”172 Furthermore,
“there was no documentation regarding GCP activities of any
kind at approximately half of all federal poultry plants during the
18-month period.”173 This verication system exemplies incon-
sistent oversight and ineffective use of resources resulting in the
continued abuse of poultry and labeling laws.174
According to the PPIA, poultry products are considered to
be misbranded “if [their] labeling is false or misleading.”175 If
a product is determined to be misbranded under the PPIA, the
FSIS can impose a range of penalties including: rescinding or
withholding the approval of misleading labels; prohibiting ship-
ment of the product through seizure; prohibiting sale through
detention; requesting a recall of the product; issuing press
releases and/or nes; and criminal prosecution.176
The FSIS developed the Animal Production Claims Outline of
Current Process (“The Guidance”), which is a labeling guidance
designed to protect consumers from false animal welfare claims as
they pertain to meat, poultry, and egg products.177 Correspondingly,
22 Sustainable Development Law & Policy
the FSIS Statement of Interim Labeling Guidance Documentation
Needed to Substantiate Animal Production Claims for Label
Submission (“The Interim Guidance”) elaborates on the labeling
approval process.178 In accordance with The Interim Guidance,
the FSIS requires a producer to show:
(1) [a] detailed written protocol explaining controls for
assuring the production claim from birth to harvest.
If purchased, include protocol information from the
supplier; (2) [a] signed afdavit declaring the specics
of the animal production claim(s) and that the claims
are not false or misleading; (3) [p]roducts tracing and
segregation mechanism from time of slaughter through
further processing for wholesale or retail distribution;
and (4) [a] protocol for the identication, control, and
segregation of non-conforming animals/products.179
When a producer submits an application to use the phrase
“humanely raised” (or a derivative term), the FSIS determines
whether the description of the producer’s conditions on its
farm qualify as humane.180 Again, there are no set guidelines to
verify whether a producer’s declarations constitute a “humane”
claim.181 The Guidance merely states, “[t]he documentation
must support the claims.”182 The Interim Guidance allows the
company or producer to dene animal welfare claims according
to guidelines established by the NCC.183 FSIS agents do not visit
farms to ensure that humane labeling claims are aligned with
on-farm practices.184 The approval is based solely on the docu-
mentation provided by the producer.185 The lack of oversight
contributes to inhumane on-farm conditions.
IV. lessons From the organIc Industry
This section explores how the humane farming industry can
learn from the organic farming industry. It discusses the similari-
ties between the early years of the “organic movement” and the
deciencies of the current “humane movement.” Next, it will
briey discuss how the organic industry unied the standards
among producers, handlers, and state and private certication
organizations. Additionally, it explores the benets derived from
being “certied organic.”
Much like the “humane movement,” the “organic move-
ment” was a response to industrialized farming practices.186 As
consumers became aware of environmental and health concerns
associated with modern agriculture, the demand for safer and
more natural foods increased.187 Initially, each state or certifying
agency established its own “organic” standards.188 Similar to
the chicken industry, this decentralized self-regulating approach
caused a lack of clarity and inconsistency among organic prod-
ucts.189 The organic industry petitioned Congress—requesting a
denitive denition for the term “organic.”190 After evaluating
the problems associated with organic food regulation, Congress
acknowledged that the inconsistencies caused consumer confu-
sion and recognized the need for federal action.191 Congress
further recognized that the premium prices producers could
charge for organic products provided an incentive for false or
misleading labeling.192
As a result, Congress passed the Organic Foods Production
Act (OFPA), which mandated the USDA to develop and write
regulations that unied the differing standards among produc-
ers, handlers, and state and private certication organizations.193
The USDA implemented the National Organic Program (NOP),
a verication process responsible for overseeing organic farm-
ers and businesses to assure consumers that organically certied
products meet a consistent standard.194 NOP established the
requirements for how organic products are grown, processed,
handled, and also labeled.195
Unlike “humane care standards,” the USDA organic stan-
dards describe in detail the means by which organic farmers
may grow crops and raise livestock.196 To become certied,
organic farmers, ranchers, and food processors must adopt and
adhere to a specic set of guidelines.197 These standards cover
the product from farm to table, including soil and water quality,
pest control, livestock practices, and rules for food additives.198
To become “certied organic,” the operation submits an applica-
tion, which is then reviewed by certifying agents, consisting of
state, private, or foreign entities accredited by the USDA.199 The
application must include: “(1) a detailed description of operation
to be certied; (2) a history of substances applied to the land in
the previous three years; (3) the organic products grown, raised,
or processed; and (4) a written organic plan describing the prac-
tices and substances to be used.”200
The costs for organic certication vary depending on the
type, size, and complexity of the organic operation and the cost
for the certifying agent.201 For example, California Certied
Organic Farmers (CCOF), an organic certifying agency, collects
fees for rst-time certication.202 The fees are derived from
three main areas: (1) a one-time application fee; (2) an annual
inspection fee; (3) and an annual certication fee based on the
“Gross Organic Production Value (GOPV)” of the operation.203
Organic operations can recover the cost of organic certication in
several ways. First, the Agricultural Marketing Service Organic
Certication Cost Share Programs such as the National Organic
Certication Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) help defray the
costs associated with organic certication.204 Once certied,
eligible organic operations can be reimbursed up to 75% of the
cost of certication.205 Organic operations are also able to factor
in the costs of production, enhanced environmental protection,
and animal welfare standards into organic price premiums to
supplement the cost of production.206
V. ProPosal to enhance Poultry welFare
and labelIng laws
The inhumane treatment of poultry in the agricultural
industry is facilitated by the lack of protection under federal
legislation. To ensure comprehensive results that will protect
the farmers who follow humane husbandry practices, consum-
ers who purchase humane products, and the birds—there needs
to be reform of animal welfare laws, poultry labeling laws, and
also an implementation of third party verication programs.
This section proposes three potential remedies to improve
poultry welfare in the agricultural industry. First, amending
Fall 2017
existing federal animal welfare laws to include poultry; second,
adopting methods to ensure the accurate labeling of poultry
products including establishing specic guidelines and third-
party verication of animal welfare related labeling claims; and
third, developing incentives to promote voluntary compliance
with poultry welfare and labeling laws.
a. amenD exiSting animal welfare lawS to
incluDe poultry
In 2014, broiler sales in the U.S. rose 6% from the previ-
ous year with sales totaling $32.7 billion,207 and a per capita
consumption of 83.48 pounds.208 These figures reflect the
substantial effect poultry has on interstate commerce. Based on
the vast quantities of chickens used for food, chickens arguably
suffer more abuse than any other animal.209 Yet, chickens are not
deemed to be animals under the denition of the AWA.210 The
abuse endured by these innocent birds as well as the substantial
effect that poultry and other warm-blooded farm animals have
on interstate commerce warrant, at the very least, the minimum
protections provided by the AWA.
Expanding the denition of “animal” under the AWA to
include poultry and animals raised for food is imperative to the
improvement of poultry and animal welfare. To ofcially declare
a chicken as an “animal” deserving of respect and protection
under the AWA would help mitigate the abuse of broilers in the
farming industry.211 As it stands, continued omission of poultry
(and other animals raised for food) under the AWA permits farm-
ers to continue to abuse chickens without consequence.212
Additionally, requiring GCP compliance to reduce prod-
uct adulteration is an inadequate attempt to improve poultry
welfare standards without amending the HMSA.213 To ensure
poultry receive sufcient coverage under federal legislation,
the USDA must use its statutory authority to promulgate regu-
lations to amend the HMSA to include poultry under “other
livestock.” Further, requiring poultry be rendered unconscious
prior to slaughter would reduce the unnecessary suffering of
broilers during the slaughtering process, decrease the likeli-
hood of adulteration associated with inhumane handling,
improve working conditions for slaughterhouse employees as
well as increase the overall nished product. 214 Considering
the HMSA was designed in part to protect animals used for
food from inhumane slaughter, improve worker health and
safety, and enhance products and economies in slaughtering—
omitting poultry from its coverage is inherently contradictive
and undermines its very purpose.215
Focusing solely on the regulation of poultry through an
advertisement-based approach to improve poultry welfare will
not help to enhance the treatment of chickens used for food
production.216 Advertisement-based challenges can be applied
against producers who falsely market their poultry products
or mislead consumers by failing to disclose information.217
Meanwhile, producers who make no such welfare related claims
remain free to treat their chickens cruelly.218
An animal welfare-based approach protects the animals
through established federal welfare standards.219 This is not
to say that an advertisement-based regulatory approach will
not prove benecial in the improvement of poultry welfare.220
When used in conjunction with a welfare-based approach,
advertisement–based regulations can serve as a supplemental
safeguard to protect consumers and discourage companies
from deceptive labeling.221
b. promulgate poultry welfare StanDarDS unDer
proviSionS of the poultry proDuctS inSpection act
Though the USDA’s authority to include poultry under the
HMSA has yet to be determined, the USDA nevertheless, pos-
sesses the authority to regulate inhumane handling and the slaugh-
ter of poultry under provisions of the PPIA.222 The PPIA grants the
USDA the authority to promulgate regulations not only to improve
the way chickens are raised and slaughtered, but also to improve
poultry product labeling.223 To assist in preventing future poultry
abuses, there are a few areas in the validation process where if
precautionary measures are taken, the purposes of the PPIA would
be fullled, and poultry welfare would be enhanced. Pursuant to
the PPIA, “no person shall . . . sell, transport, offer for sale . . . in
commerce . . . any poultry products which are capable of use as
human food and are adulterated or misbranded.”224 The USDA
has expressly acknowledged, through issuances of ofcial notices
and directives, the causal connection between inhumane handling
of poultry and adulterated poultry products.225 The conventional
electric immobilization system has proven to be inadequate in
rendering broilers unconscious prior to slaughter, thus resulting in
the unnecessary condemnation of millions of birds.226 To reduce
the probability of adulteration and the needless suffering of broiler
chickens, the USDA, through its regulatory authority granted by
the PPIA, should require a more humane slaughter method rather
than allow for the continued use of the conventional immobiliza-
tion system.
One alternative USDA-approved method of slaughter is
“controlled-atmosphere killing” (CAK).227 CAK can diminish
numerous animal welfare problems such as adulteration and
work-related injuries and health risks associated with the han-
dling and processing of live birds.228 With CAK, birds remain
in their transport crates while oxygen is slowly eliminated from
the atmosphere and replaced with a nonpoisonous gas.229 Birds
are dead prior to being removed from their crate; therefore, the
birds are already dead when handled by workers.230 CAK can
improve the quality of the meat because there is less bruising
and hemorrhaging, thus lowering the chance of adulteration.231
One objection to using CAK is the cost associated with its
implementation.232 However, return on investment (ROI) can
be reached and surpassed within a few years.233 Accordingly,
considering the minimization of the animal suffering, the reduc-
tion of the probability of adulteration, and minimal ROI, the
USDA should require the use of CAK or comparable methods
to be used in substitution of conventional immobilization
slaughter methods.
According to the PPIA, poultry products are considered to
be misbranded “if its labeling is false or misleading.”234 Based
on the conditions of J. Craig Watts’ farm, consumers felt Perdue
24 Sustainable Development Law & Policy
Farms’ Harvestland “humanely raised” chicken labeling was
clearly false and misleading.235 Despite the factory farm’s condi-
tions, the USDA gave it the “USDA Process Veried Label.”236
Animal welfare-related labels are routinely approved by
the FSIS, even though terms such as “humane” or “welfare”
remain undened.237 As demonstrated, the lack of denitive
legal denitions have sometimes resulted in deceptive label -
ing practices, varying industry standards, and inconsistencies
among third-party certication programs.238 It is imperative
that the USDA provide producers and consumers with a legal
denition for the term “humane.” In considering legally den-
ing terms such as humane and welfare, the USDA should take
into consideration the various means of measuring animal
welfare.239 According to The World Organization for Animal
Health (OIE), “[a]n animal is in a good state of welfare if (as
indicated by scientic evidence) it is healthy, comfortable,
well nourished, safe, able to express innate behaviour, and if
it is not suffering from unpleasant states such as pain, fear,
and distress.”240 The denition of “humane” should reinforce
the improvement of health and welfare of the animal; require
methods that involve the least degree of pain associated with
living conditions and slaughtering practices; address disease
prevention and veterinary treatment; and provide for a more
natural life with living conditions conducive to the species’
natural environment, access to adequate food, water, shelter,
rest, and sanitation.241
The FSIS must establish specic guidelines to be used by
producers, handlers, federal, state, and private certication orga-
nizations. The guidelines must serve as a universal minimum
standard as to what farming practices are considered not only
humane, but also inhumane. In addition, the USDA should disal-
low not only the term “humane,” but all similar humane labeling
claims from CAFOs, as conditions in CAFOs have been proven
to be inhumane to say the least.
The implementation of the NOP helped ensure organic
products met a consistent standard.242 To help ensure consis-
tency among humane products, the USDA needs to implement
a similar program, possibly the National “Humane” Program
(NHP). The NHP would formally establish the conditions that
qualify as humane as well as establish the requirements for how
humane products are handled, processed, and labeled.
Developing national uniformity for humane farming and
labeling would prove benecial to consumers and producers
alike.243 As demonstrated with the USDA’s “Certied Organic”
label, requiring denitive denitions for animal welfare claims
would minimize inconsistencies between what producers, FSIS,
and consumers believe the terms actually mean.244 Establishing
legal denitions for poultry producers to adhere to will assist in
substantiating labeling claims, eliminating conicting industry
standards, and helping to restore consumer condence in pur-
chasing “humane” products.245
Moreover, the USDA needs to develop an animal welfare
rating system that classies welfare related claims based on
farming conditions. For example, The Global Animal Partnership
(GAP) developed a ve-step animal welfare-rating program that
informs consumers about the “animal farming systems they
choose to support.”246 Each step classies animal welfare stan-
dards based on varying levels of animal welfare. For instance,
Step One prohibits cages, crates and crowding; while Step Five,
the highest level of welfare standards, requires that the animal’s
entire life is spent on one farm and prohibits physical alterations
of the animal.247 Application of these criteria would help dis-
courage misleading labeling terminology because it would not
matter what ambiguous terms poultry producers elected to use;
instead, the welfare rating would inform consumers precisely
how humane their on-farm conditions actually are.
c. implement thirD-party certification
anD verification
Animal welfare labeling claims continue to deceive con-
sumers—primarily because of the FSIS’s inadequate certica-
tion and verication process.248 The USDA’s endorsement of
Perdue’s chickens demonstrated a lack of oversight in the veri-
cation process and exposed weaknesses within the agency—
causing hesitation in some consumers to trust the USDA’s stamp
of approval.249 The current certication system is based on vary-
ing standards, and the verication system is based on an honor
code of producers attesting to the truth of their claims.250 The
absence of oversight permits for the use of deceptive labels that
can ultimately result in not only misleading consumers, but also
to harming farmers who have earned the right to label their pack-
ages with “humane” labels.251 The key to restoring consumer
condence and trust in USDA’s process veried label is proper
oversight of the certication and verication process to ensure
farms are following a unied humane standard and that they
remain in compliance through ongoing verication of animal
welfare labeling claims. The USDA should require proof in the
form of random and unannounced on-farm visits to determine
the truth of the producer’s afdavit. Since the USDA does not
have the resources or the manpower to authenticate each welfare
claim,252 independent third-party verication of animal welfare
claims is imperative.253
Third-party certication and verication for the approval of
animal welfare claims are necessary to provide: “(1) meaning-
ful, veriable standards; (2) consistency of meaning and of the
verication process; (3) transparency, including the public avail-
ability of standards; (4) independence from users of the label; (5)
opportunity for public comment.”254 Unlike the self-regulating
standards imposed by the NCC, true third-party programs are
independent of the companies they are certifying, which pro-
duce less biased results.255
An example of successful third-party verication is the
Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).256 Illegal fishing and
unsustainable harvesting has resulted in concealing the reality
of overshing and distorting the true retail availability of certain
species from consumers.257 This phenomenon results in the mis-
labeling of sh and seafood products.258 MSC, an international
third-party certication and verication organization, collabo-
rates with scientists, sheries, seafood producers, and brands
to promote sustainable shing and safeguard seafood supplies
Fall 2017
for the future.259 The MSC has made signicant progress in
their attempts to address the problem of unsustainable shing
to ensure the proper labeling of sh and seafood products.260
Through sustainable fishery management techniques that
emphasize oversight, control, surveillance, and enforcement—
the MSC has been able to signicantly reduce the amount of
falsely labeled seafood, while promoting the sustainability of
wildlife sheries.261
To be MSC certied, companies must meet the MSC
Standard, which consists of three core principles: (1) sustain-
able sh stocks; (2) minimizing environmental impact; and
(3) effective management.262 Fisheries must be managed to
maintain the structure, productivity, and diversity of the eco-
system.263 Fisheries must also have a system in place to ensure
they can respond to declining sh populations.264 The MSC
manages a second standard called the Chain of Custody for
traceability.265 A certication body independent of both the
shery and the MSC performs a traceability audit for each busi-
ness along every link in the supply chain to ensure they meet
the MSC Chain of Custody standard.266 The Chain of Custody
team performs various trace back exercises to make sure that
a product sold as certied can be demonstrated to come from
a certied source.267 They follow a product through the sup-
ply chain from point of sale to the consumer and then back
to the shery.268 To ensure businesses remain in compliance
with MSC standards, a certication body conducts random,
unannounced, and short-notice audits.269 In addition, third-
party consultants perform DNA testing which has shown that
less than 1% of MSC eco-labeled product samples have been
found to be incorrectly labeled.270 By comparison, a survey of
1,200 seafood products throughout the United States showed
that 33% were mislabeled.271 Seafood products can only dis-
play the blue MSC eco-label if the product can be traced back
through the supply chain to a shery that has been certied
under the MSC standard.272
The FSIS can develop a model similar to that of the MSC’s
model of certication and verication to ensure that products
that are labeled as “humanely raised” are independently certied
and continuously veried to ensure they live up to their animal
welfare claims. The USDA must improve oversight by requir-
ing unannounced, random audits at farms and processing plants.
This would minimize inconsistencies, fraud, and discourage
retailers from falsely labeling poultry products. In addition, the
FSIS should perform unannounced audits on independent third-
party certiers by accompanying certiers onsite and monitoring
the certication and verication process as well as reviewing
certication applications to ensure third-party certiers are
enforcing federal standards.
The FSIS’s current process for approving animal welfare
and environmental label claims lacks transparency—both in
the manner that information travels from producers to the FSIS
and how information travels from the FSIS to consumers.273
Transparency would promote accountability within the poultry
farming industry.274 However, ag-gag laws (laws that criminal-
ize whistleblowers by prohibiting the making of undercover
videos),275 can make it difcult to establish liability and trust
within the industry.276 Third-party verication can facilitate
transparency between interested parties and poultry producers
asserting animal welfare claims on their label. For example,
consumers can evaluate the details of The Global Animal
Partnership’s ve-step animal welfare rating program on their
website or that of any partnering third-party certier.277
D. Develop incentiveS anD enforce penaltieS to
encourage compliance
Compliance can be promoted when companies are evaluated
on and rewarded for their positive compliance performances.278
When coupled with strict governmental enforcement of penal-
ties, compliance incentives would further reinforce the USDA’s
effort to require the humane handling of live birds.279 Corporate
Social Responsibility (CSR) based on sound ethics and core val-
ues can be a valuable tool in helping companies gain a competi-
tive advantage.280 Food companies are prime targets for public
concern over perceived CSR deciencies,281 particularly regard-
ing animal welfare, health, safety, and labor. As demonstrated
by the substantial growth in the humane farming industry, the
social behavior of companies inuences consumer purchasing
decisions, which can directly affect a company’s bottom-line.282
Consumers often exercise their economic vote by refusing to
purchase items from companies that have a poor reputation.283
Whereas conscious companies that have a reputation for being
socially responsible attract conscious consumers.284
Poultry producers are essentially agents of trust. Trust reas-
sures consumers that the premium prices paid for “humanely”
labeled poultry products reect the cost of operating a humane
farm and contribute to the improved welfare of animals.
Consumers expect that labels are truthful and reliable. A breach
of trust often results in lawsuits, consumer protests, and product
boycotts. CSR helps establish, or in some cases re-establish,
trust in a company and their products.285
Poultry farmers are able to revamp their reputations through
reforming farming practices that result in the humane treatment
of birds. This benecial measure is capable of increasing a
company’s popularity while establishing a positive relationship
with the public. For example, Tyson Foods, Inc., a world leading
poultry producer, received an “A” from the Global Reporting
Initiative, a world-recognized organization that promotes eco-
nomic, environmental, and social sustainability.286 As a result,
there has been a positive correlation between the company’s
CSR efforts and the public’s perception of the company.287 The
company has since experienced an increase in prots and an
improvement in the company’s reputation.288
Implementing a Cost Share Program similar to the National
Organic Certication Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) and the
Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) to reimburse farm-
ers for the cost to become “Certied Humane” is a great way to
encourage poultry producers to implement more humane farming
practices. Many producers are not “Certied Humane” because
of the associated cost with becoming certied, which consists
of: an application fee, the cost to make the necessary changes to
26 Sustainable Development Law & Policy
enhance the farm to qualify as humane, and the cost of annual
inspections.289 Once certied, eligible humane operations can be
reimbursed a percentage of the certication cost.290 Since there are
costs associated with operating a certied humane farm, certied
humane producers, like certied organic producers, are justied in
charging premium prices to recuperate the cost of enhanced ani-
mal welfare standards.291 For example, conventional chicken can
cost around $2.48 per pound, while the cost of organic chicken
can range around $4.42, a 78% price increase.292
The existing procedure for evaluating and penalizing com-
panies for GCP violations does not effectively deter inhumane
handling of poultry during processing.293 Although the FSIS’s
policy is to review all processing plants, “oversight of GCP in
plants that handle birds is infrequent and uneven among [the]
USDA eld ofces.”294 The USDA must take major enforce-
ment actions demanding that food companies comply with GCP
or otherwise, be penalized for noncompliance.
One of the key problems in determining whether a facility
is following GCP results from the lack of clear and precise GCP
guidelines.295 The FSIS never ofcially recognized a set of clear-
cut guidelines to assess whether a producer’s GCP records or
actions throughout the predetermined areas of the plant coincide
with GCP standards.296 Per the directive, processors are required
to handle all live birds humanely.297 The directive requires that
poultry slaughter be done in accordance with good commercial
practices (GCP).298 Because of this deciency, producers are
left to simply comply with discretionary industry standards
set by the NCC.299 The FSIS simply addressed the verication
process.300 Moreover, not requiring establishments to keep or
maintain accurate GCP records is detrimental to the verication
process and indicative of the insignicance of poultry welfare in
the food industry.301 Establishing clear criteria specifying pre-
cisely what GCP entails will not only aid in accurately verifying
a producer’s claims, it will also formally establish a minimum
standard for the humane handling of live birds throughout the
agricultural process.302
In recognition of the causal connection between humane
handling and adulterated products, the FSIS must use its regula-
tory authority to revise the directive to rst specify what GCP
entails and then require establishments to keep and accurately
maintain GCP records for proper verication. In addition, inspec-
tors should also be required to observe the predetermined areas
of the plant to reinforce compliance.303 The PPIA reinforces the
purpose behind enacting GCP, which is to eliminate adulterated
poultry products from entering interstate commerce.304
The directive requires poultry processors to handle chick-
ens humanely, suggesting that even if the FSIS did not have the
authority to include chickens under the term “other livestock,” it
nonetheless had the authority to require the humane handling of
chickens during processing derived from the authority granted
by the PPIA.305
Based on the conditions of J. Craig Watts’ farm, Perdue
Farms’ Harvestland chickens were not “humanely raised.”306
This label was false, deceiving, and misleading, yet the FSIS has
not imposed any of PPIA’s penalties against Perdue Farms.307 In
order to effectively deter the use of misleading labels, the FSIS
must utilize the enforcement provisions of the PPIA to deter the
use of misleading labels and protect consumers from misbranded
poultry products.
VI. conclusIon
The lack of existing legal protections for poultry under cur-
rent animal welfare legislation facilitates the abuse of birds used
in food production. Loopholes in existing poultry labeling laws
along with inadequate oversight of the certication and veri-
cation of “humane” labeling allows companies to mislead con-
sumers with little consequence. It is necessary to rst dene an
animal welfare standard and then implement specic guidelines
for producers to abide by.
The USDA must exercise its authority to prevent adulter-
ated poultry products from entering interstate commerce by
establishing clear animal welfare standards for poultry. The
establishment of separate and distinct laws specically designed
to enhance poultry welfare would be ideal. However, the USDA
could utilize existing federal laws to advance the treatment of
poultry while protecting consumers. By reforming the AWA and
the HMSA, along with the application of the PPIA, the USDA
can improve the welfare of chickens used in agriculture and also
protect consumers from companies that choose to falsely adver-
tise their products as humane.
jennifer horSman & jaime flowerS, pleaSe Dont eat the animalS: all
the reaSonS you neeD to be a vegetarian 69 (2007) (quoting Jennifer Ray-
mond author of the peaceful palate).
See Joseph B. Miller, The Regulation of Animal Welfare In Food Produc-
tion 7 (Apr. 25, 2005) (unpublished Third-Year Paper, Harvard Law School)
(available at (noting
that broilers are bred for their meat and are the most consumed animals in the
United States).
Big Chicken: Pollution and Industrial Poultry Production in America,
pew charitable truStS (July 26, 2011),
production-in-america; Poultry Slaughter 2016 Summary, u.S. Dept of agric.
natl agric. StatiSticS Serv. 4-5 (Feb. 2017), http://usda.mannlib.cornell.
edu/usda/current/PoulSlauSu/PoulSlauSu-02-24-2017.pdf [hereinafter Poultry
Slaughter 2016].
Chicken Production on Factory Farms, farm Sanctuary, https://www. (last visited Dec. 13, 2017)
[hereinafter Chicken Production]; see Sonia faruqi, project animal farm:
an acciDental journey into the Secret worlD of farming anD the truth
about our fooD 100 (2015) (“Chickens and turkeys today are, in a sense, like
balloons, except that they expand not with air but light. If they enlarge too fast,
they explode—or, rather, implode, collapsing on painful, broken legs. Extreme
genetic selection, accelerated by articial insemination, has created farm
animal breeds today that yield far more meat, milk, and eggs—while eating
continued on page 49