While consumers desire a lot from food labels, there’s only so much they can digest of a seal or emblem slapped on the side of a package. Some labels, like the "USDA Organic" seal, have become iconic, in a sense—but as Consumer Reports’ recent survey showed, the majority of people think the regulations behind that emblem should go further than it does. While nearly half of shoppers say they look for the "organic" seal at the grocery store, a significant majority think the label means that, in the case of meat and poultry, animals had plenty of living space (73 percent) and regularly went outside (72 percent).
While that label is a benchmark in many ways—and is far more meaningful than the "natural" label, which essentially means nothing—it does not address either animal or worker welfare issues. Enter a host of third-party labels that grade animal products on their humaneness and sustainability. Yet how’s a consumer to know all the standards and regulations (or loopholes, for that matter) behind the seal itself? Consumer Reports gives us this simple, exhaustive infographic that breaks down the pluses and minuses of the most common animal welfare labels.