A new food certification label is now available for 100% grassfed meat products in Canada. Animal Welfare Approved is introducing the first and only food label which guarantees that food products marked as grassfed come from animals fed a 100% grass and forage diet and are raised entirely outdoors on pasture or range for their entire lives.
The new Animal Welfare Approved Grassfed label is the result of both consumer and farmer demand to distinguish authentic grassfed products in a confusing marketplace, and seeks to set a new standard for grassfed labels in Canada. With annual independent on-farm audits to ensure compliance with strict production standards, the Animal Welfare Approved Grassfed program provides high-welfare, 100% grassfed farm businesses with the opportunity to clearly differentiate their products from other grassfed claims. The standards have been approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the government agency responsible for the administration of food labeling policies, ensuring that qualifying farmers can use the grassfed label on their products with confidence.
As more consumers understand the damaging impact that intensive farming is having on our health, the environment, and animal welfare, they are seeking out truly sustainable alternatives, including grassfed labeled meat. As a result, an increasing number of products, labels and brands are making grassfed claims. However, because the term "grassfed" is not regulated in Canada, the production systems behind these grassfed labels vary significantly, leading to situations where some producers could confine their cattle on dirt feedlots, and even feed grain in the finishing ration, and yet still legally label and sell their meat as "grassfed."
"With the increasing demand for authentic grassfed meat, we sensed a need for a market-based solution that would enable high welfare, grassfed farming businesses to differentiate their products in the marketplace," says AWA Program Director Andrew Gunther. "Although other grassfed labels and claims exist, none match the integrity and transparency offered by the Animal Welfare Approved Grassfed standards and certification procedures."
Located near Hanna, Alberta, 10,000-acre TK Ranch is the first farm business to achieve the Animal Welfare Approved Grassfed certification for their beef and lamb. TK Ranch has been producing strictly grassfed and finished beef for over 15 years. Owner Colleen Biggs was already certified by Animal Welfare Approved in 2012, but was eager to continue working with the program to introduce new standards that would help to make products from TK Ranch and other authentic grassfed farmers truly stand out in the marketplace.
"We're proud to be Canada's first ranch to achieve the Animal Welfare Approved Grassfed certification for our beef and lamb. There are a lot of great grassfed producers out there, but the fact that the term "grassfed" is not regulated in Canada means that unless consumers know exactly what questions to ask, they might be buying an orange when they really wanted an apple," says Biggs. "We approached Animal Welfare Approved in 2012 to explore creating grassfed production standards and certification procedures and were able to create a transparent and measurable process for other grassfed producers to follow and a grassfed label that consumers can really trust."
For more information about the Animal Welfare Approved Grassfed label, visit http://www.animalwelfareapproved.org/standards/awa-grassfed/.