Strip Misleading Labels from Meat and Dairy Products

Target: Paul Kiecker, Administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service

Goal: Eliminate misleading terminologies such as “cage free” and “pasture raised” from the labels of meat and dairy products.

In recent years, there has been an upsurge of meat and dairy products marketed under labels such as “free range,” “cage free,” and “pasture raised.” While these labels give the illusion of a more ethical standard of practice, they in fact only provide consumers with a false sense of security. There is not much improvement in the welfare standards between “cage free” or “free range” animals and those that are not.

Cage free chickens, for example, are oftentimes raised in closely confined indoor facilities, overcrowded with hundreds of thousands of other chickens. So, while they might not necessarily be confined to battery cages, these animals are by no means able to roam freely and comfortably, as is implied by the label. “Cage free” comes with other caveats, as well, including higher rates of violence between individual chickens and worse overall air quality. “Free range,” similarly, instills the false idea that the animals are liberated and at peace. Though free range animals—unlike cage free animals—are given access to the outdoors, this doesn’t guarantee that any individual animal will actually go outside. Usually, free range animals are given access to a few small doors that lead to a screened in porch, far from the acre of pasture some of these animals require.

These labels–though ensuring slight improvements to the previous animal welfare standards set at meat and dairy farms alike–by no means ensure ethical practice. There is no stringent definition of what counts as “cage free” or “free range,” and pasture raised labels aren’t even fully regulated by the USDA. There is no such thing as ethical meat or dairy–at least not as the agricultural industry currently exists. Sign this petition to encourage the removal of deceptive titles and, instead, push for stronger welfare standards for animals on agricultural farms.


Dear Administrator Kiecker,

Billions of cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals suffer on industrial meat and dairy farms across the world each and every year. In the face of rising scrutiny of the cruel practices endured by these animals, corporations have started taking additional precautions to save their reputations. In order to put consumers more at ease, meat and dairy companies have started labeling their products with deceptive terminologies such as “cage free,” “free range,” and “pasture raised.”

These labels are extremely misleading. While they provide consumers with the false illusion that farm animals are actually receiving proper treatment, these labels do little to ensure improvements to national animal welfare standards. Regulations on what constitutes “free range” or “pasture raised” in the first place are non-specific and open-ended and may, therefore, vary across farms or between states. Products marketed as free range falsely imply that animals are privy to previously unexplored freedoms, but—in truth—some of these animals won’t even ever make it outside. Cage free practices, similarly, do little to improve animal welfare. Cage free chickens are still subjected to the overcrowded, disease-ridden conditions that caged chickens are. Even worse, these chickens are forced to deal with poorer air quality and increased aggression among pen-mates.

Instead of focusing on painting an illusion of ethicality, we should focus on actually progressing animal welfare standards on our farms. We are asking you, Mr. Kiecker, to please discourage the use of deceiving labels on meat and dairy products. These animals do not live the peaceful, happy lives conveyed by these labels, and the public should not be under this impression.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Nom d’util


  1. so you mean to say that the new perdue commercial with the happy jingle and the chickens running all over the yard is false advertising. i would have never imagined!

    • Linda Hilty-Tuttle says:

      Yes, TV lies to us about MANY things – this is just ONE!
      Don’t believe everything you see and hear – THINK, while it’s still legal!!!

  2. Hell, I’ve known about this other (out of hundreds!) “greenwashing” lie for DECADES already. Consumers never ask enough questions or research anything, they’ve been so lulled into becoming complacent, LAZY…and uncaring.

  3. Patricia Schwarzmann says:

    Stop misleading the public with those false labels. the Dept. of Agriculture should check frequently to see if those places comply with what they advertise and if they don’t, they should be fined for misleading the public and torturing the animals

  4. Dear Administrator Kiecker,

    THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE SHOULD make regular visits to supermarkets to detect whether their meat suppliers meet the “cage free,” “free range,” and “pasture raised” requirements and if otherwise, fine them.

    Thank you!

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