80 percent of meat labels meant to inform consumers mean absolutely nothing, according to a new report released today. The report, compiled by the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) from documentation from the USDA, shows that nearly all companies -- including those that claimed their meat was "humanely raised" or "sustainably produced" were unable to provide proof for their claims. According to the report, 20 of 25 of the USDA-approved animal welfare and sustainability labels that were reviewed over three years did not come with a single piece of evidence to support them.
"We're not suggesting that all these claims are misleading or that the claims we reviewed were misused," Dena Jones, manager of AWI's Farm Animal Program, told TIME. "But that's the problem-we don't know," she notes. "That doesn't give any assurance to the consumer."
The report points out that there aren't scientifically established definitions for "humanely raised" or "sustainably raised" -- though companies can still claim these labels.
AWI does cite several labels they do trust trust, however. These include Animal Welfare Approved, American Humane Certified, Certified Humane, Food Alliance, USDA Certified Organic and GAP, which verifies products sold at Whole Foods Markets.
AWI has created a petition asking Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to ensure that the USDA creates food labels that are not deceptive or misleading -- you can sign that petition here.