California Proposition 12 Compliance Audits

NSF is an approved Proposition 12 certifying agent for American meat and egg distributors operating in California.

The ethical treatment of farming animals is a growing concern for consumers. Data from NSF research shows that animal wellness is either very or extremely important for nearly 70% of US consumers.

In line with these expectations, between 2020 and 2023, the state of California enacted a series of Animal Confinement laws, known as Proposition 12 (Prop 12), to stop the housing of farming animals in cruel conditions.

Prop 12 requirements and prohibitions

Proposition 12 prohibits the confinement of animals in systems that don’t comply with minimum size and design standards. Covered animals are:

  • Hens (chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, or guineafowls) kept for egg production. Depending on the type of enclosure, the usable floorspace must be between 1 and 1.5 square feet per hen.
  • Calves kept for veal meat production. The enclosure must provide a minimum of 43 square feet of usable floorspace per calf.
  • Breeding female pigs older than six months or pregnant. The enclosure must provide a minimum of 24 square feet of usable floorspace per breeding pig.

Proposition 12 also prohibits the distribution and sale of products obtained from covered animals kept in facilities that don’t comply with the requirements, whether produced in California or outside the state. These products are:

  • Shell eggs and liquid eggs (whether cooked, frozen, dried, or freeze-dried)
  • Uncooked whole veal meat
  • Uncooked whole pig meat from breeding pigs or their offspring.

Prop 12 exemptions

The animals and products not included in the scope of the law are:

  • Hens housed for meat production
  • Calves housed for dairy and beef meat production
  • Pigs housed for meat production
  • Veal and pig meat used as an ingredient of processed food products, such as soups, pizzas, or hotdogs.

Who needs to comply with Prop 12

The businesses that need to comply with Proposition 12 are:

  • Californian animal farmers
  • Californian distributors of egg and meat products
  • Animal farmers anywhere outside of California, who want to sell their egg and meat products in the Californian market.
  • Distribution Centres

Retailers and manufacturers of food products are exempt from Proposition 12 requirements.

Non-compliant operations may be subject to:

  • Denial, suspension, or revocation of Distributor Registration
  • Criminal charges: fine of up to $1,000 and up to 180 days in county jail, or both
  • Sanctions for unfair competition as prescribed by the California Business and Professions Code.

Mandatory 3rd party certification

From January 1, 2024, a third-party Certificate of Compliance is mandatory for all animals and products covered by the law. The certification process works in four steps:

  • Application for certification to a certifying agent
  • Review of the application
  • On-site inspection
  • Corrections of any deficiencies identified during the audit.

Upon certification, meat and egg distributors are approved to sell the certified products to suppliers and retailers in California.

California-ready with NSF

NSF is an approved certifying agent for American meat and egg distributors, and UK pork farmers who want to operate in the state of California.

Other services

As part of our commitment to public health and animal wellness, we also offer certifications to:

Raised Without Antibiotics Certification

Get the only independent certification mark that assures consumers animal products were produced without exposure to antibiotics.
Learn more

NSF Global Animal Wellness Standards

NSF Global Animal Wellness Standards take a holistic approach to animal wellness and go above and beyond traditional animal welfare to include additional dimensions such as the environment, physical conditions and the social and emotional well-being of the animals.
Learn more

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