Animal Raising Label Claims


September 30, 2020 - <>, <> & Ashley Kuschel,

These labeling terms are used on products to describe the environment in which animals were raised during their lifespan. Animal raising claims describe the care the animals receive and how the producer maintains the land and environment. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for overseeing that meat, poultry and egg product (not shell eggs) label claims are truthful and not misleading. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates shell eggs and their labels.

Free Range & Free Roaming

Poultry have continuous, free access to an outdoor area during production and throughout their laying cycle. These claims are regulated by the USDA for poultry but not for beef, pork or lamb production.

Cage Free or Crate Free

Animal products labeled Cage Free or Crate Free have been able to freely move around without restriction in a building, enclosure or on pasture and have unrestricted access to food and fresh water throughout their production cycle.

Third Party Certification

Animal welfare and environmental stewardship claims can also be certified by third party organizations if the organization publicly posts the standards they use to define the claim. Two examples of third party certified claims include “Humanely Raised” and “Sustainably Farmed”.

Pasture Raised

Pasture Raised is not the same as Free Range and such claims are not defined by the USDA. Pastured poultry is a production system generally used by smaller producers. 

Naturally Raised

Naturally Raised refers to live production practices and cannot be used on meat and poultry labels as it could easily be confused with Natural. Naturally raised typically indicates that production practices such as antibiotics or growth-promoting hormones were not administered to the animal.



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