Understanding Turkey Labels

Not sure which food labels mean what for turkeys? Use our guide below to learn the meaning behind the labels on your turkey products—and whether they actually impact turkey welfare. Look for the ASPCA recommended labels Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane and Global Animal Partnership (Step 2 or higher), and then take our Shop With Your Heart pledge to access more resources to help you find these products and make welfare-conscious choices the next time you go shopping.

Turkey Label Guide

Animal Welfare Approved
Animal Welfare Approved
 

Certified Humane
Certified Humane

Global Animal Partnership
Global Animal Partnership

American Humane Certified
American Humane Certified

USDA Organic
USDA Organic†

Free Range

Free Range

No Antibiotics Ever

Natural

Adequate Indoor Space Minimums

5 ft2 per bird

7.5 lb/ft2  
(~4 ft2 per bird)

Step 1: 10 lb/ft2
(~3 ft2 per bird)

Step 2: 7.5 lb/ft2
4 ft2 per bird)

Step 3: 6.5 lb/ft2
(~4.6 ft2 per bird)

Step 4-5+: 6 lb/ft2
(~5 ft2 per bird)

Must be “able to stand, turn around, and flap their wings”

None

None

None

None

Environmental Enrichments Required

Yes, outdoor enrichments on pasture

Yes, used to “stimulate exploratory, foraging and locomotive behavior”

Step 1: No

Step 2: Yes, ≥ 1 type of indoor enrichment

Step 3-4: Yes, ≥ 2 types of indoor enrichment

Step 5-5+: Yes, outdoor enrichments on pasture

No

No

No

No

No

Outdoor Access Required

Yes, “continuous daytime ranging and foraging area access”

Only if free-range**

Step 1-2: Not required

Step 3: Yes, continuous outdoor access during daylight hours

Step 4: Yes, continuous pasture access during daylight hours

Step 5-5+: Yes, continuous access to pasture

Only if free-range**

Yes, but undefined

Yes, but undefined

No

No

Breed Health Requirements

“Must be chosen with consideration of their ability to thrive in… pasture-based, free range, outdoor systems”

“Care must be taken to avoid genetic strains with undesirable traits”

All steps: ”Must be chosen for good leg health and for low levels of mortality” 

Step 4-5+: “Must be chosen for the ability to range and for good immune systems” 

Step 5-5+: “Must be able to perch”

None

None

None

None

None

Natural Light Required

Yes

No

Step 3 and higher

No

No

No

No

No

Toe-Clipping Prohibited

Yes

Yes

Step 1: Permitted on first three toes using microwave technology

Step 2-5+: Prohibited

No, permitted <24hrs at hatchery using microwave technology

No

No

No

No

Beak-Trimming Prohibited

Yes

No, permitted
< 10d

Step 1-3: Permitted at hatchery using infra-red

Step 4-5+: Prohibited 

No, permitted <24hrs at hatchery using infra-red

No

No

No

No

Maximum Transport Duration

4 hrs

None

Step 1-3: 8 hrs

Step 4-5: 4 hrs

Step 5+: Transport not permitted

None

None

None

None

None

Routine Antibiotic Use Prohibited

Yes

Yes

Yes

No, allows nontherapeutic use of ionophores

Yes

No

Yes

No

On-Farm Audits

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Detailed On-Farm Welfare Standards

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

100% Compliance with Standards

Yes

Yes

Yes

No*

Yes

No

No

No

†Although the USDA Organic program released new, stronger animal welfare standards in January 2017, it delayed their implementation for months. Finally, in December 2017, the USDA announced its intention to withdraw these new standards completely. We are monitoring developments and will keep you updated; be sure to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade for alerts if you haven’t already.

* American Humane Certified standards only require that producers meet 85% of the provided standards. Accordingly, it is possible that a producer might not meet certain requirements (including antibiotic use) and still receive the American Humane Certified certification.

** Certified Humane and American Humane Certified only require outdoor access under their free-range and/or pasture programs. Therefore, only turkey that has both the certification and a free-range and/or pasture label comes from birds with outdoor access.