Tag Archives: USDA

Food Labels: Naturally Raised (or Natural) Meat

Food Label Tag GreenExcerpt from Ecoholic

“According to the CFIA, this label should mean the animal was raised without human intervention (i.e. vaccines, hormones or antibiotics). Some health stores use the term on their meat to mean hormone-, antibiotic-, GMO- and animal-by-product-free, as well as free-range. But the feed isn’t organic.”

Excerpt from GreenerChoices.org

“If you came across a package of ground beef with a “naturally raised” label on it, it might conjure up images of animals roaming freely and grazing on open pasture. But unfortunately, that’s not the case with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new voluntary standard for the naturally raised claim, which the agency issued on January 16, 2009.”

“For livestock used for the production of meat and meat products, the USDA’s naturally raised marketing claim standard:

  • Prohibits growth promotants (including growth hormones);
  • Prohibits animal byproducts in feed—which are implicated in causing mad cow disease; and
  • Claims to prohibit antibiotics (but allows ionophores used as coccidiostats for parasite control).

While those are important practices, Consumers Union believes only specific product claims should be allowed, such as ‘no antibiotics or hormones ever administered’. They should not be couched under a vague and misleading term that does not address how the animals were raised, their main diet, treatment of animals, space requirements, and other concerns.

“This regulation will allow an animal that has come from a cloned or genetically engineered stock, was physically altered, raised in confinement without ever seeing the light of day or green of pasture, in poor hygiene conditions with a diet laced in pesticides to be labeled as ‘naturally raised.’ This falls significantly short of consumer expectations and only adds to the roster of misleading label claims approved by USDA for so-called natural meat,” said Dr. Urvashi Rangan, Senior Scientist and Policy Analyst at Consumers Union, and Director of GreenerChoices.org.”

“A national telephone poll conducted by Consumer Reports’ National Research Center released in November 2008 showed American consumers want the “naturally raised” meat claim to mean more than USDA’s standard, including that it came from an animal that:

  • Had a diet free of chemicals, drugs and animal byproducts (86%)
  • Was raised in a natural environment (85%)
  • Ate a natural diet (85%)
  • Was not cloned or genetically engineered (78%)
  • Had access to the outdoors (77%)
  • Was treated humanely (76%)
  • Was not confined (68%)”

Food Labels: Grass-Fed (or Pasturized) Meat

Food Label Tag GreenDon’t “All Cows Eat Grass”? I was pretty sure it was more than a mnemonic used to teach children to read music. Apparently, commercially-raised cows have been switched to a grain feed. Apparently, the mnemonic isn’t as accurate as it once was…

Excerpt from Ecoholic

“Grass-fed cows are said to be much healthier (the animals get sick less and their meat is more nutritious to the end consumer) than a typical grain-fed cow. In fact, USDA researchers have found that hay- or grass-fed cows are less likely to have E. coli in their digestive tracts than grain-fed types (and that’s a good thing, considering E. coli might otherwise contaminate your burger). But there are no federal standards or enforcement mechanisms in place for this label.”

Excerpt from Grass-Fed-Beef-101.com

“Currently the United States Department of Agriculture has not adopted an official definition of Grass Fed Beef. There are two terms, often used interchangeably that people find confusing, they are; Grass Fed Beef and Grass Finished Beef.”

“The definition of Grass Fed Beef generally means beef from cattle that have eaten only grass or forage throughout their lives, however some producers do call their beef grass fed but then actually finish the animals on grain for the last 90 to 160 days before slaughter.

A more specific definition is Grass Finished Beef. Finishing is just another word for the time that cattle are normally fattened for the last few months before processing. Typically, feed lots finish cattle for 90 to 160 days on grain, usually corn, whereas, grass finished cattle are fattened on grass only, until the day that they are processed.”

Food Labels: Antibiotic or Hormone-Free Chicken

Food Label Tag GreenDid you know that it’s actually illegal to give hormones to chickens in both Canada and the US? Huh. Read on…

Excerpt from Ecoholic

“The CFIA [Canadian Food Inspection Agency] says no poultry can be injected with hormones in this country, so that part of the claim is kind of useless (beef cattle are the only animals that can be treated with growth hormones in Canada). As for antibiotics, the CFIA says even conventional birds shouldn’t be shipped ot the slaughterhouse until they test clean for drugs. If the product is federally registered, this label will be pre-approved for accuracy. If it’s provincially registered, it’s open to spot checks or complaint-driven inspections.”

From the US Department of Agriculture

“No hormones are used in the raising of chickens.

Antibiotics may be given to prevent disease and increase feed efficiency. A “withdrawal” period is required from the time antibiotics are administered before the bird can be slaughtered. This ensures that no residues are present in the bird’s system. FSIS randomly samples poultry at slaughter and tests for residues. Data from this monitoring program have shown a very low percentage of residue violations.”