Organic Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Humane for Eggs, Meat, or Dairy

Think that buying organic meat, eggs, and dairy means the animals were treated kindly? Think again.

November 15, 2013 | Source: Care2 | by Piper Hoffman

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA’s All About Organics page and our Safeguard Organic Standards page.

Think that buying organic meat, eggs, and dairy means the animals were treated kindly? Think again.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which regulates the prerequisites for organic certification, has decided that farms don’t really have to meet its animal welfare standards. I guess they were just kidding with that whole we-care-about-animals act. The USDA’s decision to let farms do as they please to animals ignores the recommendation of its own advisory board, while it helps big business.

As implemented, the USDA’s organic standards are intended to promote environmental sustainability and possibly consumers’ health, not to help animals. To legally label crops or animal products organic, a company must not use:

synthetic fertilizers 
sewage sludge (If you didn’t buy organic before, I bet you’re seriously

considering it now!) 
genetically modified organisms (GMOs)  ionizing radiation

Meat, egg, and dairy sellers have a couple extra no-nos:

growth hormones

Animals are better off without routine administration of medications that make them grow faster than their bones and other systems can handle, but those who are sick and need antibiotics for treatment cannot receive them and remain organic. Businesses are supposed to treat them anyway, but cannot sell their bodies and products as organic.

On paper the USDA has one prerequisite for organic certification that is meant to improve animals’ lives: they must have “year-round access to the outdoors except under specific conditions (e.g., inclement weather).” The government’s website also claims that to be officially organic, farms must raise their animals “per animal health and welfare standards.”