“One Health Certified” Food Label Misleads Consumers

January 26, 2021

The new year is unfortunately being accompanied by a new food label that is exploiting consumers’ concern for animal welfare. A misleading food labelling scheme known as One Health Certified (OHC) has recently been approved for use on chicken and turkey products and is now being used by a handful of grocery store chains, including Aldi and BJ’s.

The program co-opts the World Health Organization’s respected One Health framework, claiming to address animal, human and environmental health, but in practice it is little more than a rubberstamp on standard, inhumane and unsustainable factory farming practices. Today, the ASPCA, alongside a coalition of animal welfare, consumer, public health and environmental organizations, released a joint statement opposing the program, as well as a multi-sector consensus statement outlining a true, meaningful approach to One Health.

Despite One Health Certified’s claims that animal welfare is a core principle, this misleading label fails to set any meaningful animal welfare requirements. Chicken and turkey brands using the label can choose among three poorly regulated welfare standards: American Humane Certified™ (an audit program), or voluntary industry guidelines set by either the National Chicken Council or the National Turkey Federation. None of these standards require that animals have adequate space to move, or environmental enrichments, and they all allow use of breeds selected for their extreme growth rates, which leads to injuries and infections. OHC standards also allow the use of medically important antibiotics as a form of disease prevention instead of addressing the unhealthy conditions that cause rampant diseases on factory farms. Any certification claiming to represent a “one health” approach should not allow practices that threaten animals’ welfare, jeopardize public health and cause environmental damage.

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised public awareness of the many dangers of factory farming, and even more consumers are now looking for humane, healthy and environmentally friendly food. A recent ASPCA survey showed that 89% of Americans are concerned about industrial animal agriculture, citing animal welfare, worker safety or public health risks as a concern. Seventy-two percent of those surveyed who were exposed to a media story about animal agriculture during the pandemic reported now seeking out alternatives to factory-farmed meat, eggs and dairy.

The ASPCA Shop With Your Heart program provides resources for concerned consumers looking to put their food budget to work for farm animals, including a label guide that breaks down One Health Certified and other claims and certifications consumers may find on meat, eggs and dairy products.