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The Washington Post reports that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will consider "implementing higher standards for meats marketed in grocery stores as 'humanely raised' or antibiotic-free - claims that critics say are often exaggerated to justify their higher prices.

"The effort comes as USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service faces pressure to tighten oversight of marketing claims on packaged food. Consumers often pay a premium for 'humanely raised' or 'antibiotic-free' meat because they view it as healthier, better for the environment or kinder to animals.

"But critics say the agency’s rules for allowing such claims on meat packaging are too lax, citing recent studies from animal welfare groups and science journals."

These studies, the Post writes, prompted "Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) to write a letter to Sandra Eskin, the USDA’s deputy undersecretary for food safety, saying that without accurate labels, consumers are robbed of their ability to purchase in accordance with their values, and that 'the USDA has an obligation to ensure consumers have the information necessary to make informed choices about the products they purchase'.

"'The widespread deceptive use of label claims such as ‘humanely raised’ and ‘raised without antibiotics’ is harming consumers and honest family farmers,' Booker told the Washington Post. 'It is a positive development that USDA is now focusing on this issue, but the agency needs to quickly implement strong rules to clean up the marketplace'."

KC's View:

My opinion remains consistent - labels ought to reflect the actual reality of the ingredients or make up of a product.  If it is described as being 'humanely raised' or 'antibiotic-free," it actually ought to be.  No excuses, no wiggle room/