According to the USDA, it is illegal to sell poultry in the US that was raised with added hormones. So why are companies like Perdue plastering their packaged chicken with labels like “No Hormones or Steroids Added”? It has nothing to do with consumer clarity and everything to do with consumer confusion.
For many consumers, hormones as an additive may sound scary and, for them, a label like the ones found on Perdue chicken implies that the product is safer or healthier than similar products that may not sport such a label. But the truth is that ALL chicken – regardless of the label – NEVER has any added hormones. It’s federal law.
To help “clarify” things for consumers, the USDA requires companies that use these misleading labels to also include a disclaimer on the package that says, “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.” Sounds good, right? But here’s the catch (beyond the fact that the label is so obviously misleading in the first place): that disclaimer label is typically nowhere near the original claim. In fact, it’s usually found somewhere in the corner of the package, in tiny print, easily overlooked by the average shopper rushing into the store on a quick grocery run after work.
While the claims on these labels are far from clear for the average consumer, one thing is: These companies are banking on consumer fears and lack of knowledge about federal law in order to increase sales. And consumers – and consumer trust – pay the price.