WASHINGTON — After submitting its petition earlier in 2023 to the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) about clarification between “free-range” and “pasture-raised” production claims, Perdue Farms LLC now faces comments on its proposal.

During November, FMI – The Food Industry Association, wanted the agency to consider and evaluate consumer perception of labeling terms. 

“Truth in labeling is important and foundational to the federal food labeling regulations,” FMI said. “When consumers have questions about labels and specifically claims, they often reach out to their trusted food retailer. Clear and consistent information along with educational tools are needed with any changes to labels. FMI and its members encourage the agency to seek broad stakeholder feedback in a transparent process as well as evaluate consumer’s understanding of the current and any proposed labeling terms prior to making changes.”

In another comment, Wormuth Farm, based in Sussex County, NJ, provided its thoughts on the ongoing labeling case.

“While the objective to clearly differentiate between ‘free range’ and ‘pasture-raised’ is commendable, the specifics of Perdue’s proposal, particularly the 51% rooted-in-soil vegetative cover and allowing poultry to spend up to four weeks in a brooder, deviate significantly from the true spirit of ‘pasture-raised,’” Wormuth Farm said.

Perdue asked in its March petition to amend labeling compliance under the Poultry Products Inspection Act to remove any product that is “pasture-raised” that would be considered synonymous with “free-range.”