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Grocery chain Giant Eagle has revealed its plans to phase out all “One Health Certified” (OHC) chicken from its stores. This major win for conscientious consumers comes after dialogue with Farm Forward over the deceptive nature of the OHC label. The label is the creation of the nation’s fourth largest poultry producer, Mountaire Farms, which has recently come under attack for its egregious workers’ rights, environmental, and animal welfare record. OHC is a case study in humanewashing, healthwashing, and greenwashing.
OHC has also been denounced by a coalition of over 50 groups, including Farm Forward, who represent the public health, consumer protection, and animal welfare sectors. In a statement Farm Forward sent to Giant Eagle, the coalition stated:
[T]he OHC standards package conventional practices in consumer-researched language that resonates well with shoppers but delivers little. Plans announced in January 2020 to expand from the OHC chicken and turkey standards to other animal products, including beef, dairy, pork, and eggs, makes it all the more urgent to address these concerns. The inadequacies of these standards must be exposed before any more consumers are misled into thinking that the OHC label represents anything more than business as usual.
Mountaire underhandedly released the OHC label to capitalize on growing consumer concern about factory farming’s role in public health, pandemics, animal welfare, and environmental health. Mountaire’s so-called “certification” appropriates terminology from the legitimate One Health framework, which is a wide-ranging environmental and public health effort forwarded by institutions like the CDC and WHO. Regardless of what the holistic-looking label implies, OHC simply codifies standard factory farming practices—like the use of genetically modified, rapidly growing birds. OHC was designed to trick consumers into thinking they are buying a better “One Health” animal product, when in reality, they are buying the same factory farmed products with a new label.
In a webinar, Mountaire Farms confessed their plan with the OHC label is to “reduce consumer concerns.”1 However, consumers should be concerned about Mountaire’s intentions in light of its recent $205 million settlement for contaminating Delaware’s potable water, in addition to its questionable labor practices, specifically its treatment of its workers.
Unfortunately, OHC is just one among many of the humanewashing gimmicks pushed by food giants like Mountaire. These marketing ploys assuage consumers’ concern for animals’ well-being, while concealing the use of controversial animal farming practices, like lifelong confinement. According to Ben Goldsmith, Chief Strategist at Farm Forward, “From ‘humane’ and ‘all natural’ labels to certifications that appear legitimate, humanewashing makes it nearly impossible for consumers to shop in accordance with their values.”
In September 2021, Giant Eagle’s Director of Corporate Communications Don Donovan told Farm Forward, “Please know that at Giant Eagle we take seriously our responsibility to ensure the welfare and proper handling of all animals that are used in the production of items sold in our stores … As part of our next product label update, we do have plans to discontinue the inclusion of the One Health Certified label . . . We expect this shift to happen over the coming months.”
Giant Eagle’s move to discontinue OHC comes after Farm Forward’s petition pressuring ALDI to abandon the OHC label hit 70,000 signatures. The decision illustrates that Giant Eagle is taking meaningful steps towards transparency. Now it is time for other grocery chains that claim to cater to conscientious consumers, like ALDI and Whole Foods Market, to follow Giant Eagle’s lead in addressing the rampant humanewashing on their shelves.
Humanewashing prevents consumers from making choices at the grocery store that align with their values. Help stop this deception by signing our petition to ALDI, urging the chain to drop the deceptive OHC label. Before your next trip to your local grocery store, read our food choices guide to get the full scoop on the labels, and when in doubt, consider defaulting to a plant-rich diet.
October 6, 2021
Ritter, G. D. 2020. “Webinar: Strategies to Market Modern Poultry Production Practices.” WATTAgNet: Chicken Marketing Summit Webinar Series.