Sponsored: Are you being fooled by labels?
Shoppers are innundated with so much information on packaging these days that it can be confusing. It's important to remember that brands and suppliers will often put labels on packaging to attract your attention in an effort to sell their products. Let's try and makes some sense of what labels mean and which are just about the marketing.
The USDA ( the US Department of Agriculture) regulates the labeling of our red meat, poultry and pork products and has this to say about labels:
"Chemical-free"- NO - This is NOT allowed to be used.
"Antibiotic-free" & "No antibiotics" -NOT ACCEPTABLE - The accepted verbiage is , "No antibiotics added". This can be used for meat, pork and poultry but only if sufficient documentation is able to be provided that the animals were raised without antibiotics.
"Hormone-free" - IT DEPENDS on the MEAT! - Hormones are NOT allowed in the raising of chickens or hogs (pork) anyway so if a brand/supplier uses this verbiage they must also note that "Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones." For beef the accepted verbiage is "No hormones administered", but the supplier must be able to provide proof.
Source: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/ "Meat and Poultry Labeling Terms"
Leah McGrath, RDN, LDN
Ingles Markets Corporate Dietitian