Meat labeling has become as intricate as
freelance writing these days and not many people know what the meat
labels actually mean when they read them. Do you need to buy
grass-fed? Is natural meat the same as organic meat?
Read on to find out!
Meat labels with ORGANIC written on them have
been strictly government regulated. Organic meat labels verify
that the meat is hormone free, antibiotic free, and no animal
by-products were given to the animals. It also verifies that
the animals have access to pasture land for exercise and fresh air.
NATURAL meat labels simply mean that there are no
artificial ingredients in the meats. This is not a controlled
label so many companies use it just to mean that there aren't any
colorings added to the meat. Read your label carefully!
If the meat labels state ANTIBIOTIC-FREE it means
that the animals were never given antibiotics. People became
concerned with antibiotics in their meat because of the widespread
overuse of antibiotics in our society. This overuse could lead
to the formation of many antibiotic resistant bacteria which is a
HORMONE-FREE meat labels refer to meat from
animals that were not given any hormones to stimulate growth.
Studies have not proven that hormones found in meat are harmful, but
at least this label gives you the choice to choose meat that doesn't
contain these hormones. By law, chickens and pigs cannot be
given growth hormones so if the meat labels on pork or chicken read
hormone-free then it's just being repetitive.
Meat labeling that includes FREE-RANGE in it
means that the animal was able to access the outdoors for most of
its life. Just because the animal had access doesn't mean it
took advantage of the opportunity.
GRASS-FED animals were given grass to eat for at
least some of its life instead of feed with animal by products.
Studies have shown that grass-fed meat has more vitamin A and more
vitamin E than non grass fed animals. More omega-3 fats are
also found in grass fed meat.
ANIMAL COMPASSIONATE meat labels have become more
prominent in grocery stores such as Whole Foods and in some
restaurants. This meat label is placed on meat where the
animals were raised in a humane manner before being processed for
COOL (Country of Origin) These particular
meat labels reveal where the animals were bred, raised and
processed. If multiple countries were involved then they all
should be listed. This has become popular since the chef,
Jamie Oliver led a campaign to have this labeling when it was
discovered that meat processed in countries under methods illegal in
the UK could be brought to the UK and labeled as British meat.
Next time you're shopping for meat, check the
meat labels carefully. Use the information found here to help
you make informed decisions about what meats to purchase and whether
or not you really want to spend the extra money just for a "label".
Reference: "Making Sense of Meat Labels",
Parents, July 2007, pg. 34.