Will Humane Labels on Meat Confuse Consumers?

With all the important choices a patient has to make to safely navigate a grocery store, I wonder if the latest announcement by Whole Foods to certify a portion of the meat it sells as "animal compassionate" -- meaning certain animals were humanely treated until their slaughter -- will be more confusing than helpful.

Already, the small DAgostino grocery chain in New York is selling "humane" meat and sales have shot upward by 25 percent, even though prices on this product line are as much as 40 percent higher than other meats. But, is it really any better?

By the way, the USDA doesn't regulate the treatment of farm animals, nor does it verify the accuracy of "compassionate" labeling, a big problem considering some animal welfare programs permit them to be raised entirely indoors and allow farmers to cut off the tails of pigs. What's more, the growing number of animal welfare standards may vary widely, depending as much on commerce and the provider as the animal's health.

The most important thing to remember about buying meat: Understanding the health advantages of grass-fed, pesticide-free meats over grain-fed fed varieties sold in most grocery stores. If you eat processed meats loaded with pesticides and hormones, then cook it at high temperatures, you're asking for trouble.

New York Times October 24, 2006 Registration Required

The Lakeland (Fla.) Ledger October 24, 2006

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