Source - Food & Beverage Litigation Update | Issue 726

Ad Board Recommends Change to Animal Welfare Claim

The National Advertising Division (NAD) has recommended that Clemens Food Group and its flagship brand, Hatfield Quality Meats, “discontinue the claim ‘Ethically Raised by Family Farmers Committed to a Higher Standard of Care, Governed by Third Party Animal Welfare Audits.'” NAD acknowledged that the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) reviewed the claim, but the “record here did not demonstrate that FSIS considered consumer impact or that it explained its reasoning with respect to its determination on the ‘ethically raised’ claim. Accordingly, NAD undertook its own review of the challenged claims."

The challenger, Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), argued that the claim misled “a high percentage” of consumers “because they took the claim to mean that the animals’ treatment and living conditions exceed industry standards.” NAD noted that AWI provided a consumer perception survey, and the board found the survey to be methodologically sound. Hatfield submitted “caretaker standards, third-party auditing and related practices, and its relationship with animal welfare expert, Dr. Temple Grandin who helped to develop Hatfield’s sow houses and processing facilities."

NAD “concluded that this support is not sufficient to substantiate the claim at issue because the practices cited by Hatfield as innovative are not directly relevant to any third-party auditing program as stated in the challenged claim.” Although the ad board was “encouraged by Hatfield’s commitment to continue implementing animal welfare practices in the future,” it ruled that “these aspirational programs were not sufficient to support the challenged claim for Hatfield’s commercially-available products.”

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