Feeling Confused About Meat Food Labels?

How are Certified Organic Animals Raised?

If you are a meat eater and care about labels, you probably want to do the right thing and eat animals that were raised humanely. It seems to be  a common misconception that certified organic meat means the animals eats organic food and lives an organic life (i.e. on the pasture).  Unfortunately this is not the case.  Yes, the food is organic, non GMO, and cannot come from animal by-products. Animals with the organic certification can be fed in feed lots just like a conventionally raised animal.  This is a picture of a feed lot. Doesn’t look very organic does it?

The Truth About Grass Fed Beef

So the grass fed food label must mean the cattle graze on grass, right?    Did you know that even conventionally raised cattle graze on pasture the first 6 – 12 months of their life? Simply claiming the meat is grass fed can mean the animal was finished on grain which of course defeats the health benefits of wanting a grass fed animal in the first place. If you aren’t confused yet, keep reading. There are stricter grass fed certifications (American Grassfed Association and the Food Alliance grass-fed program).  Unlike the USDA, these certification programs address issues like antibiotics, hormones and confinement.  By the way, the USDA certification doesn’t really mean much.  The animals can be fed antibiotics, fed GMO food and be tightly confined. Cattle raisers can make their own grass fed claims. They are not required to follow any specific standards either.  Their grass fed beef may, or may not be, USDA certified organic. The cattle may, or may not be, fully raised in a pasture.


This claim is also misleading if the animal was finished on a feed lot unless it comes with a certification.  Which certification though? I don’t eat beef anymore.  But I did buy some butter yesterday.  It said “USDA Organic” and “Pasture Raised” on the label.  But was it really pasture raised or was it finished off in a feed lot with organic food?  Oh boy, I am really confused now…

More Meat Labels

If you want to learn (or possibly get even more confused) about other meat food labels, go to this site.  Good luck.

To your Health!

Peter Gillham

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