The "Naturally-Raised" Meat You Eat May Be Just the Opposite


Meat photo by paPisc @ flickr.

These days the supermarket is a minefield of labels and claims - nowhere else is the glaring effect of greenwashing so pronounced.

"Naturally raised" meat sounds good, but what does it mean? It's a voluntary U.S. Department of Agriculture standard, approved just days before the end of the Bush Administration, that states that animals have been raised without antibiotics and without growth-promoting medicines (except for parasite-reducing ionophores) and aren't given any animal-byproduct feed. It sounds pretty good, doesn't it? But the drawback, and it's a big one, is that what will be allowed under the "naturally-raised" label is as important as what is not. Animals from cloned or genetically-engineered stock, for starters. Is that "natural"?Dolly for dinner
Consumers Union said voluntarily halting the use of antibiotics and growth-promoting hormones and restricting use of animal-byproducts in feed are important practices that livestock producers should be able to point to when labeling their meats. The same producers would be allowed to obtain animals from cloned or genetically-engineered sources, raise the animals in confinement, or feedlot operations, give them low-quality, possibly pesticide-laced feed, and still slap on the "naturally-raised" label, Consumers Union said.

The U.S.D.A. received more than 44,000 comments about the rule before it went into effect, and Consumers Union gathered 36,000 signatures against the ruling because of the consumer confusion it might cause. Food advocate Marion Nestle said she is glad that "naturally raised" now means something concrete.

Bye bye greener pastures
However, Consumers Union found that consumers believe "naturally raised" means an animal is raised in something resembling a natural environment. No antibiotics and growth-enhancers certainly form a part of that picture we mentally paint when we hear the words. But what about the grass? Where are the pastures? Where is the natural in "naturally raised"? Just remember this the next time you get one of the great "naturally-raised" pork burritos at Chipotle. Seems like the consumers lost out on this one. Via: Consumers Union
Read more about "naturally raised"
US Naturally Raised Beef Standards - Meaningless As Proposed
How Science Supersized Your Turkey Dinner
Chipotle Mexican Grill Opens With On-Site Wind Turbine
Finding a Place to Make Happy Meat
Chipotle: Food With Integrity

Tags: Agriculture | Food Safety