At Schweid & Sons, we love our consumers as much as they love quality beef! Meat eaters are a tight knit group of discerning carnivores. Most beef eaters would sooner chew on cardboard than swap a juicy, choice cut for a veggie patty. But is it possible for carnivores to love meat and still be compassionate consumers? We believe the answer is a resounding yes! Ethical husbandry and quality beef production go hand in hand to create wholesome products while improving the lives of farm animals everywhere. Now that’s something you can really sink your teeth into!
Learn more about what Certified Humane Raised and Handled Beef is, the distinction between certified ethical vs. other common labels, and the difference consumers can make by choosing humane.
Certified Humane: An Overview
Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC) is the leading non-profit entity that oversees the Certified Humane Raised and Handled Beef classification.
The guiding mission of the HFAC is “improving the lives of farm animals in food production” by “driving consumer demand for kinder and more responsible farm animal practices.” This standard allows for a comprehensive approach to humane farming that works with farmers and ranchers to promote health, enrichment, and care for poultry and livestock. You may be familiar with the “Free Range” label in the chicken industry that HFAC also oversees.
The cattle industry is subject to similar standards, with a rigorous 5-step certification process that consists of:
- Review HFAC Standards and Policy. Farmers and ranchers must thoroughly read the species-specific guidelines and associated educational literature for the care and harvest of animals prior to requesting an inspection and proceeding with the certification process.
- Submit Application. An extensive application for approval is then submitted for expert review.
- Schedule and Facilitate an Inspection. Once an applicant is approved by the initial review stage, an inspection is arranged by an HFAC agent to review the facilities and living conditions of the animals.
- Obtain Certification and Use Label. Success! You are now a cruelty free purveyor of beef. Certification is valid for one year and subject to HFAC’s standards, fees, and regulations. In other words, treat this label like gold and stay on top of your practice when it comes time to renew.
- Renewals and Changes to Certification. Annual inspections ensure there is never a lapse in quality. In addition, HFAC must be notified of any changes to organizational structure or practice once an operation has been certified that will alter the conditions under which animals are kept. Failure to provide proper notification may result in loss of one’s certification for good.
In addition to these base guidelines, HFAC may perform routine audits. Animal welfare experts look at everything from sufficient space for cattle to roam, the size of facilities where animals are housed, pasture upkeep, feeding routine, overall health, and humane harvest practices. These tenets ensure responsible practices are maintained throughout the year and reinforced when it comes time for renewal.
Ethical practices are not only good for the animals, but beneficial to the planet overall by decreasing the carbon footprint left behind from traditional farming and opting for sustainable agriculture and ranching.
“Ethically Raised,” “Cage Free,” “Responsibly Raised,” and Other Designations
With so many labels in the food industry, it can be tricky for consumers and restaurateurs to be sure the meat they’re purchasing is truly humane. Many designations intentionally mimic the phrasing used by vetted agencies such as HFAC, but rarely adhere to the same quality control standards. This means large scale, factory farms can get away with words like “responsibly raised” or “ethically raised” when in fact these industries employee the same outdated, often cruel standards that have plagued the industry for decades.
Even so-called certifications like “cage free” (which sounds suspiciously close to “free range”) may simply mean that chickens are enclosed in an overpopulated barn instead of individual cages. The same goes for the cattle industry and the variety of labels applied to get in on the sustainable agriculture bandwagon without changing practices.
To be sure you’re getting the best quality beef, take a moment to research a brand’s certification. Certified Humane Raised and Handled Beef is a safe, reliable certification that is governed by a quality control agency with rigorous review standards. Under this certification, purveyors are required to keep detailed records and meet strict compliance standards so you know “humanely raised” always means humane.
Happy Cows, Happy People, Happy Planet
By being a compassionate consumer, your dollar can go a long way in actively supporting ethical family farms and local ranchers. This in turn allows sustainable operations to continue to maintain quality standards that produce wholesome, all natural beef.
So put down the veggie burger and don’t cover up the grill just yet. Schweid & Sons is proud to offer family farm raised, all natural Angus beef that’s always certified humane, raised and handled by our network of 250 local farms across the United States. Raise a burger to great taste and compassionate farmers!
Got questions? Contact our beef experts for more tips on how carnivores can go cruelty free.