Thursday, October 15, 2015

ASPCA "Change Your Chicken" Challenge #BtC4A

When you go to throw that chicken on the grill or in the oven, do you think “Hmmm, I wonder where this chicken actually came from?” Most people don’t. Or maybe you are already label savvy and you have done your research. Either way, it is really important to know the conditions and where your meat comes from.

The majority of people think that if they see a label that says Organic, Cage Free, No Hormones, etc… that they are getting a good meat, and they settle for trusting what that label says. Unfortunately, there are some very misleading food labels out there. Don’t be fooled by fancy words and claims. Words like Organic, humanely raised, natural, cage free, free range, hormone free, antibiotic free and vegetarian fed, are thrown around all over the place. But in reality, they do not mean much.

A great example is “Cage Free.” This is a misleading claim for meat chickens because, unlike egg-laying hens, they are never raised in cages. If someone claims “Hormone Free,” well of course they are, because it is already illegal to feed hormones to chickens. So you aren’t getting anything different than what anyone else has. Another great claim is “Antibiotic Free.” Antibiotics are fed to animals on factory farms as a band aid fix for unhealthy living conditions. However, removing drugs does not alone make for a more humane system.

The ASPCA is hoping to raise awareness about the plight of factory farmed chickens in order to inspire the public to demand healthier, more humane conditions. They launched Change Your Chicken– a 30 day challenge that encourages Americans to shift all their chicken purchases from the worst factory farmed products to more humanely raised products.

Over the last few decades, corporatized, industrialized agriculture has largely replaced America’s independent small farms—with catastrophic consequences for animals. While there is no strict definition, industrialized “factory farms” are characterized by extreme confinement of large numbers of animals with practices designed to maximize efficiency and profit, and little regard for animals’ well-being, sentience or natural behaviors. Factory farms often use animals bred to produce unnatural amounts of eggs, milk or meat, causing painful disorders and lameness.

So how do you know what you are getting yourself into and what to look for if you are looking for chicken that is truly good? One great place to start - These three certifications represent a range of better environments for birds than conventional farms and require annual farm audits:

A few good ways to start your search for healthier meat are to find meats that have specific standards with labels that match those standards:

Animal Welfare Approved – Look for chickens that have continuous access to pasture or range. No feedlots. Cage confinement, hormones and sub-therapeutic antibiotics prohibited. Standards extend to breeding animals, transport and slaughter.

Certified Humane, Raised & Handled –Look for chickens that have continuous outdoor access for ruminants. Cage confinement, hormones and sub-therapeutic antibiotics prohibited. Minimum space allowance and bedding required for indoor environments.

Global Animal Partnership 5 Step Program (Steps 2 and above) –Step 2: indoor space and enrichment requirements. Step 3: outdoor access. Step 4: access to pasture. Step 5: full pasture environment. Step 5+: slaughter on farm.

Certified Humane, Animal Welfare Approved and Global Animal Partnership (levels 2 and above) represent a range of higher-welfare practices, but all three certify that the chicken you’re buying was not subjected to the terrible crowding, filth, sickness and suffering found on the worst factory farms.

As a part of this challenge, the ASPCA has put together some great resources to help along the way.

So, are you ready to take the #ChangeYourChicken 30 day challenge? I am challenging all of my readers to take the challenge. There are some awesome resources on the ASPCA website, including the challenge toolkit, which has resources to help you change your chicken. Pledge takers will also receive exclusive tips and help along the way by email. If you’re a fellow blogger, reach out to me to find out how to create your own blog post and spread the word about the #ChangeYourChicken challenge. Post on social media, encouraging your friends and family to take the challenge as well. Sample language could be: “I’m cutting out factory farmed chicken for 30 days for the @ASPCA #ChangeYourChicken challenge:

With every purchase we have the power to reduce farm animal suffering. Take a stand and #ChangeYourChicken!


NoraA said...

Honestly I don't look at the label on the chicken I buy. There isn't any since I'm buying Certified Glatt Kosher chickens. The only symbol on the package is the name of the Kosher Certification Agency. The OU, OK, CRC and many others.

As for beef, veal and lamb again I only buy Glatt Kosher, but those are grass fed hormone free and organic.

Savannah's Paw Tracks said...

You are right. I buy those cage free, free range etc chickens and tools them on the grill. I will pay far more attention.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Melissa!

Fur Everywhere said...

Thank you for the awesome information, Melissa! It is amazing how companies can toss these words around and mislead people. Now I know what to look for!

Talking-Dogs said...

Thank you so much for joining the hop! This is one of my personal soapbox issues - factory farming and what is means to animals, as well as our food supply - a tragedy. I love that you gave specifics so people know better how to shop. I've changed by chicken, pork and beef and not only is it healthier for my family, my conscience feels better.


What a great post -- thank you!!!

Cathy Keisha said...

Very informative post. I don’t think our supermarket has any of those labels. The ones labelled “antibiotic free” are usually about twice the price as those not labelled. Any time anything has a label, the price automatically rises.

Cats Herd You said...

This is great! We'll make sure that Ashton reads this so she is well-informed for making selections for her chicken emporium.

Robin said...

It is crazy what the truth is behind the terms used in advertising. I'm glad to hear that there are companies that are certifying chicken products so that you can know the difference. Maybe one day our food producers will care about the quality of life of the animals we eat.
-Purrs from your friends at

Unknown said...

I love the push towards more humane farms; the factory ones absolutely horrify me. Love the image on the labels - it's so disturbing how misleading many of them are. It's sad to think so many people read free range or natural and really have no idea what that could actually mean.

LetterstoAndrew said...

I'm glad you posted this!!! I had no idea that those terms were so misleading. I'm currently working towards finding a local farm I can purchase from.

Lately I've been looking for humanely raised, humanely handled. We really need to be conscious of the choices we are making.

Rosa Doodle said...

This is really interesting especially from someone who hates chicken! I have never felt safe eating it, I'm not sure why!

Lola The Rescued Cat said...

We LOVE this post! Mommy buys certified humane chicken. It's hard to find around here, and it's expensive. But today she was in another county and she found some that was on sale for $3.99 a pound! She stocked up.

Thank you for sharing this information!

Nancy said...

Thank you for posting this, Melissa. Although I no longer eat chicken or turkey, I do buy it and cook it for my family. I will make copies of these labels so I carry them with me when shopping. We all have to ban together to stop the suffering of farm animals!