Calling all Paleo-folks, and everyone else who enjoys sourcing and eating high quality meat! We know, of course, that grass-fed meats have a better nutrient profile – less inflammatory fats and more anti-inflammatory fats. But on January 12th of this year, the USDA withdrew its Grass Fed Marketing Claim Standard meaning that livestock producers can no longer label their products USDA Grass Fed.
What does this mean?
Up until this change, the USDA allowed livestock producers who submitted sufficient evidence and were subsequently approved, to use the claim “Grass Fed” on their labeling and (optionally) use the USDA Process Verified Label:
Since the USDA is discontinuing this program, what will producers do and what should consumers know about choosing high quality meats?
The first thing to know is that there are other, private standards for grass-fed labeling. You can look for any of these images on meat products:
The next thing to know is that the grass-fed label is not a comprehensive standard to indicate high quality animal rearing. For instance, it doesn’t distinguish whether the meat was produced without hormones, antibiotics, or if it is organic.
Ideally, you would look for grass-fed AND organic, or at least grass-fed and antibiotic/hormone-free. Here are some additional labels to look for:
And if you’re looking for sustainable farming that supports natural ecosystems and biodiversity without the use of antibiotics and hormones, then we like this standard from the Food Alliance:
Since we’re on the topic, beware of marketing claims that have no depth:
One thing that can really get our indignation rolling is the labelling claim “all natural”. This applies to ANY product that does not have any added synthetic preservatives of coloring. ALL unprocessed raw meat, poultry and fish can be described as “all natural” and it really tells us very little indeed about quality.
What matters most to you when it comes to choosing meats?