Perdue Incorporated, Salisbury, Md., said it is the nation's first poultry processor to receive a federal seal of verification for its chicken feeding practices. The company said its fresh, all natural chicken products now carry the "USDA Process Verified Seal." Officials say the United States Department of Agriculture(USDA) verified that Perdue products with this seal are from chickens that have been raised without cages and/or were fed an all vegetarian diet.

"We worked directly with the USDA to create verification programs that would give consumers added confidence in how our chickens are raised and what they are fed," said company Chairman Jim Perdue.  "The USDA is a trusted resource and we believe the seal will make it easier for consumers to choose chicken products they can feel good about feeding their families." 

Perdue believes the new seal will help address consumer uncertainty about label claims. According to a 2011 national telephone survey conducted by Infogroup/Opinion Research Corporation on behalf of Perdue, of those consumers who purchased raw, fresh chicken in the past six months and read product labels:

    * Nine out of ten (89 percent) consumers do not believe everything meat or poultry packaging and labels say or claim. 

    * Three-fifths (60 percent) of consumers do not know who is responsible for making sure the health and other claims made on product packaging are accurate.

    * Nearly forty percent (40 percent) of consumers prefer products that have been verified by a third party.

The USDA Process Verified Seal indicates that the USDA audited the company's processes behind claims made on the product's packaging. Perdue said its USDA Process Verified programs include "All Vegetarian Diet," "No Animal Byproducts" and "Raised Cage Free." 

"We feed our birds the finest natural grain products, including corn, soybeans and marigolds, with no animal byproducts," said Perdue. 

He added that products carrying the Raised Cage Free claim are verified to come from birds that are free to move about within temperature-controlled chicken houses.