The Problem

Every day in Berkeley and San Francisco, grocery shoppers and restaurant patrons unknowingly purchase food derived from animals without knowing what the health, environmental and animal welfare impacts are. Often these products are sold with labels such as “natural,” “humanely-raised,” or “cage free.”

Customers are often misled into believing that “humanely-raised” means that animals were raised in suitable conditions. We are not told that such phrases are not defined or evaluated by the federal government.  

Customers are not informed that raising animals for food causes significant greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, water pollution and air pollution.

No mention is made of the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) has designated red meat and processed meats such as hot dogs, ham, sausage, luncheon meats and bacon as Class 1 carcinogens, right alongside cigarettes.

The Right to Know

Compassionate Bay, a Bay Area-based organization devoted to animal rights, consumer rights, and environmental protection is proposing legislation to address these issues. Right to Know requires that businesses with more than one outlet to provide customers with information:

  • if the product is a processed meat and therefore carcinogenic according to the WHO.

  • if the product is derived from animals raised in confined animal feeding operations. i.e. “factory farms.”

  • the location of the factory farm.

  • if the farm mutilates the animals without pain killers. (Examples of typical mutilations include: removing a portion of chickens’ beaks; removing portions of their toes; branding; “dehorning,” castration, etc.

  • what zoonotic diseases (diseases spread from animals to humans) have been diagnosed in the past year at each such factory farm.

We also propose that stores and restaurants indicate that these products cause significant environmental damage.

RIGHT TO KNOW stipulates that stores and restaurants provide signage similar to the California Proposition 65 warnings or written information available to each customer about the product they are purchasing. We recommend that businesses stop selling products with labels such as “cage-free” and “humanely-raised” which investigations by animal rights groups have found over and over such statements are little more than empty advertising slogans designed to entice customers into paying higher prices.

 

Top photo: A “free range” chicken farm supplying to Whole Foods. Photo by Direct Action Everywhere.