Once again, an animal protection group has exposed animal agriculture’s deceptive advertising tactics. Earlier this year, the Animal Welfare Institute (“AWI”) filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau’s National Advertising Division (“NAD”) challenging the truthfulness of advertising claims by the Clemens Food Group, LLC/Hatfield Quality Meats (“Hatfield”).
On labels for their pork products, Hatfield falsely claimed their pigs are “Ethically Raised by Family Farmers Committed to a Higher Standard of Care, Governed by Third Party Animal Welfare Audits.”
But AWI and NAD saw right through the deception.
NAD, a branch of the Better Business Bureau responsible for enforcing high standards for truth and accuracy in national advertising, agreed with AWI that Hatfield’s claim was misleading to consumers. NAD rejected Hatfield’s attempts to justify the labeling, ruling that Hatfield’s animal care standards and practices were “not sufficient to substantiate the claim,” and recommended they remove the claim from their labels.
NAD decisions represent the single largest body of advertising decisions in the United States and are widely respected by both the advertising industry and federal regulators. The decision against Hatfield appears to mark the first time NAD has recommended removal of an animal welfare claim on a meat product.
Along with the Federal Trade Commission’s previous decision favoring Compassion Over Killing in a challenge to the United Egg Producer’s “Animal Care Certified” logo – initiated by an NAD complaint – these cases establish important precedent that misleading industry claims regarding the treatment of animals will not be tolerated. These decisions also demonstrate to the industry that animal protection organizations are willing and capable of using any and all methods, including non-traditional channels like NAD, to challenge deceptive advertising and protect the interests of animals.