Homegrown | Understanding Meat Label Claims

September 30, 2019 0 By Ewald Bahringer

Welcome to Homegrown In the Kitchen. Nowadays, consumers are looking for more information
on their meat and how it’s produced. Specifically, as it relates to animal welfare,
environmental impacts and so on. However, with so many claims it can be really
hard to navigate and some claims can be downright misleading. So, today I want to talk about a few of the
most common meat labels found in the marketplace. So, let’s start by grouping label claims into
two major categories: Certified and Non-certified. Certified means just that. That a certifying agency visited the farm
and verified that that farm accurately met those standards on the label. Some examples include “animal welfare approved,”
here; “USDA Certified Organic”; “American grass-fed certified”; et cetera. These label claims also have a formal set
of publicly available standards you can review. But, not all certified claims are created
equal so it’s important to review their standards and make sure it matches with your values. Then there are non-certified claims. Most claims in the marketplace actually, fall
into this category. Non-certified standards may vary from product
to product, meaning most are up for interpretation. This isn’t to say that non-certified claims
are necessarily inaccurate or untruthful. But, there’s room for variation because, the
farm isn’t audited and most claims aren’t required to follow one definition that’s publicly
available. What they are required to do is work with
their processors to submit an application to their state or their federal labeling division
explaining why their farm is justified in using that claim. They are then approved or denied based on
that paperwork. Remember, if you’re confused by a label claim
in stores and you’re the type of customer who wants to review a set of standards, seek
a third-party claim that meets your values. And, not all third-party claims are created
equal. Some cover a range of criteria from animal
welfare production to slaughter, while others don’t. So, review the claims and see what matters
to you. You can find additional resources pertaining
to some of the claims covered today and niche meats on the N.C. Choices website.