Food and Animal Welfare at Tufts
Dining is proud to support a number of animal welfare initiatives, including
cage-free eggs and a sustainable seafood program.
In addition, veal - a product often associated with low animal welfare
standards - is not served on campus.
The high intensity and high production capacity of our food system has
allowed the U.S. to possess the cheapest and most abundant food supply
in the world. U.S. consumers reap the short term economic benefits of
this system, yet the impact on animal and environmental welfare is huge.
Few people realize the poor state in which food animals spend their
bred by the meat, egg, and dairy industries live brief lives that are
manipulated to maximize their food-producing potential. Whether you
believe in animal welfare or not, there are numerous social and environmental
reasons to question the way in which our meat is produced.
Although animal welfare violations are widespread in the United States,
many producers are comitted to improving both the lives of their animals
and the quality of our food. While a number of labels exist that suggest
humane treatment, such as "grass-fed," "free-range,"
or "all-natural," they are mostly unregulated and can be misleading.
Currently the best way to ensure that your animal products are produced
humanely is to buy directly from the farmer or from a local store you
trust to check up on the practices of their suppliers.
The industrialization of the beef industry has influenced the development
of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), which keep cattle confined
in small spaces and feed them up to 90% rations of corn. Very young
calves cannot survive on corn, but after six to eight weeks of pasture
are considered old enough to leave the grassy range and inhabit a CAFO,
where they will eat corn for the rest of their confined lives. A corn
diet results in severe stomach ulcers and other health problems before
they are slaughtered at 12 months of age.
In contrast, grass-fed
beef operations allow animals to subsist on their natural diet of prairie
grasses throughout their lives. Because animals don't fatten as quickly
on grass, cattle live longer, healthier lives out on the range. The
meat from grass-fed beef is also leaner, higher in unsaturated fat and
lower in saturated fat. In addition, fewer environmental impacts are
felt with grass-fed operations as animal manure is dispersed more evenly
throughout the land. For nearby vegetable farms or housing communities
this means less likelihood of water contamination and less odor pollution.
is no federally regulated "grass-fed" label, so inconsistencies
in interpretation exist.
range generally implies that an animal was raised in the open air
or was free to roam and live out their natural instincts. Animals
raised in the open have access to minerals and nutrients in the
soil that improve the quality of their lives as well as the quality
of their meat. The U.S.
Department of Agriculture has defined "free range"
for poultry but not for eggs. USDA requires that free range chickens
raised for meat have access to the outdoors, however this requirement
is not very meaningful. In reality, the government only requires
that outdoor access be made available for "an undetermined
period each day." This can translate into an open coop or stall
door for just five minutes daily, regardless of whether the animals
actually make it outside. For other products carrying the "free
range" label, there is no standard definition or regulation.
Many conventional dairy cows are impregnated to stimulate milk production,
and are separated from their calves within a day of giving birth. They
are then given recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), a genetically
engineered copy of a naturally occuring hormone produced by cows which
stimulates milk production by as much as 10-15%. Cows injected with
rBGH suffer from increased mastitis, a painful inflammation and infection
of the udder, as well as severe reproductive problems, digestive disorders,
foot and leg ailments, and persistent sores and lacerations. A number
of dairy farms and commercial operations offer rBGH-free milk products.
Organic milk is rBGH free by definition.
25 billion animals are killed for meat each year in the United States.
three-quarters of the antibiotics used in the U.S. each year are administered
to animals raised for food.
who practice “forced molting” starve chickens for up to
14 days in order to “shock” their bodies into laying more
they can be raised neither for food nor eggs, millions of male chicks
are killed every year by being suffocated or ground up in macerators.
Chickens have an average wingspan of 32 inches, yet up to eleven will
be crowded into cages 18 inches wide by 20 inches long. Many fast
food corporations require that no more than five chickens be put in
each cage, but even a single chicken would not be able to spread its
wings in such a small space.
the time they are slaughtered, approximately 29 percent of chickens
have broken bones as a result of their mistreatment.
a cow’s natural lifespan is 25 years, those used by the dairy
industry are killed at the age of 4 or 5. By this time, almost 40
percent of the cows are lame.
a result of intensive milking and chemical manipulation, dairy cows’
bodies produce 10 times more milk than they naturally would.
Between a third and half of dairy cows suffer from mastitis. A third
of beef cattle are afflicted by potentially fatal liver abscesses
due to their poor diet.
calves live in crates no more than 30 inches wide and 72 inches long.