Tuesday, January 27, 2015

New certification supports growing demand for grassfed meat

Animal Welfare Approved Logo

First Grassfed Label in North America to Guarantee 100% Grass and Forage Diet, Environmental Management AND High-Welfare Standards From Birth Through Slaughter--
MARION, VA (January 27, 2015)--A new food certification label is setting the standard in the U.S. when it comes to 100% grassfed meat.        
AWA Certified Grassfed is available to farms with beef cattle, meat and dairy sheep, meat and dairy goats, and bison, with individual logos for each species [hi-res versions available on request]. 

AWA's new Certified Grassfed label is the only label that guarantees food products come from animals fed a 100% grass and forage diet, raised outdoors on pasture or range for their entire lives, and managed according to the highest welfare and environmental standards in the U.S. and Canada. Although other grassfed labels exist, none has fully met consumer expectations when it comes to a grassfed and forage diet, environmental management, and farm animal welfare--until now.

As consumers wake up to the damaging impact that intensive farming is having on our health, the environment, and animal welfare, many are seeking truly sustainable alternatives--including grassfed meat. According to recent researchdemand for grassfed beef has grown by 25-30 percent every year over the last decade.

But while demand for grassfed meat is sky-rocketing, some grassfed certifications are not meeting consumer expectations--and may even permit some highly questionable practices. Under the USDA Grassfed label, for example, farmers can confine their cattle on dirt feedlots for long periods outside the growing season, or use growth hormones and subtherapeutic antibiotics, and still market the beef as grassfed--just as long as they feed the animals cut grass or forage. 

AWA's new Certified Grassfed label is the ONLY grassfed program in North America to guarantee:                
  • Ruminant animals raised outdoors on pasture for their entire lives, with an entirely grass and forage diet                 
  • Animals raised according to the highest animal welfare and environmental standards in the U.S. and Canada                      
  • High-welfare handling, transport, and slaughter of animals--including an annual review of slaughter facilities

Located near Hanna, Alberta, 10,000-acre TK Ranch was the first farm business in North America to achieve the AWA Certified Grassfed status for their beef and lamb. TK Ranch has been producing strictly grassfed and grass-finished beef for over 15 years and was already Certified AWA in 2012. However, owner Colleen Biggs was eager to make products from TK Ranch truly stand out in the marketplace. Colleen Biggs says,

"We're proud to be Canada's first ranch to achieve the AWA Certified Grassfed for our beef and lamb. There are a lot of great grassfed producers out there, but the term "grassfed" is currently not regulated in Canada and is open to some interpretation in the U.S. So unless consumers know exactly what questions to ask, they might be buying an orange when they really wanted an apple. AWA's Certified Grassfed standards and certification procedures are authentic, measurable, and transparent. This is the one grassfed label farmers, retailers, and consumers can really trust."                

AWA Program Director Andrew Gunther says, 

"No other grassfed label can match the breadth, integrity, and transparency offered by AWA's Certified Grassfed standards and certification procedures. With independent on-farm audits to ensure compliance with our practical and achievable farm standards, the AWA Certified Grassfed program provides grassfed farm businesses with the tools they need to clearly differentiate themselves in the marketplace. 

"The recent decision by Carl's Jr. to source grassfed beef highlights that this is the right time to launch a grassfed label that ticks all the right boxes. AWA grassfed farmers across the country are ready, willing, and eager to supply these exciting new markets."        

For more information about the AWA Certified Grassfed label, read our AWA Certified Grassfed FAQs or visit AnimalWelfareApproved.org/standards /awa-grassfed.

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About Animal Welfare Approved 
Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) audits, certifies and supports farmers raising their animals according to the highest welfare standards, outdoors on pasture or range. Called a "badge of honor for farmers" and the "gold standard," AWA is the most highly regarded food label in North America when it comes to animal welfare, pasture-based farming, and sustainability. All AWA standards, policies and procedures are available on the AWA website, making it the most transparent certification available.

AWA's Online Directory of AWA farms, restaurants and products enables the public to search for AWA farms, restaurants and products by zip code, keywords, products and type of establishment. AWA has also launched AWA Food Labels Exposed, a free smartphone app guide to commonly used food claims and terms, available from the App Store or Google Play. A free printable version of Food Labels Exposed is also available for download at AnimalWelfareApproved.org.

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