Free-Range Chickens Aren't All That Free

US - "Free-range chickens" -- are they truly so? I have heard that in most instances, the chickens are granted release from constricted cages for a short time only and still spend their lives in small cages.
calendar icon 1 August 2007
clock icon 2 minute read

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Service and Inspection Service compels producers of so-called free-range poultry to demonstrate that the birds in question have "been allowed access to the outside." Natural poultry contains no artificial ingredients or added color and is only minimally processed.

And that's it for USDA regulations.

Now, the department also publishes a document called "U.S. Trade Descriptions for Poultry" that outlines voluntary trade standards for chicken and chicken products. The trade descriptions specify six categories of poultry, each one comprising a production method (where the birds live) and a feeding system (what the birds eat).


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