Humane Farm Animal Care officially defines "free range" and "pasture raised" for Certified Humane label.
HUMANE Farm Animal Care (HFAC) has announced new standards for products that are labeled Certified Humane and either "free range" or "pasture raised."
The Certified Humane standard is a program of HFAC, a nonprofit certification organization, but is not officially governed by state or federal government programs.
Poultry producers who want to qualify for the voluntary certification must meet HFAC's new revised standards for laying hens, with the "free range" section of the standards now divided into "pasture raised" and "free range."
The Certified Humane free-range label requires 2 sq. ft. per bird, and hens must be outdoors — weather permitting — for at least six hours per day.
To qualify as Certified Humane pasture raised, hens must be outdoors all year, with mobile or fixed housing available. The fields must be rotated, and the density requirement is 1,000 birds per 2.5 acres.
Currently, there is no legal definition for free range or pasture raised in the U.S. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety & Inspection Service has established guidelines for terms appearing on food labels.
Producers who want to claim free range or pasture raised on food labels — whether they choose to participate in the HFAC program or not — must obtain approval from USDA's Labeling Program & Delivery Division.
Such approval requires poultry producers to briefly describe the housing conditions and prove that they provide continuous, free access to the outdoors for more than 51% of the animal's life through its normal growing cycle.
Likewise, a pasture-raised claim on the label requires the producer to show that the animal has had continuous, free access to the outdoors for a significant portion of its life.