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Food Labels

Posted 1/23/2013 4:24pm by Monique Russ.

Yesterday ABC News released a news story about the increasing number of fake ingredients in products, and they reported food fraud is up 60% this year. Many claims on labels are not regulated by the FDA, and some manufacturers are taking advantage of this...and you. Many of the labels found on products in grocery stores are deceptive, misleading, or even a down right lie.

My husband and I have been trying to educate people about the labeling gimmicks for years, so last year we put together a list of the most common misleading labels used on packaged meat . As an example, just because a package has a "free range" label on it doesn't mean that animal was out grazing or foraging on open pastures. The following label definitions were taken directly from the USDA website, but we added important facts clarifying the definitions and outlining deceptive raising practices. All of this information can be verified by going to www.ams.usda.gov.

All Natural This term refers to the finished product only. Products labeled natural cannot contain any artificial flavor or flavoring, coloring ingredient, chemical preservative or any other artificial or synthetic ingredient; and the product and its ingredients are not more than minimally processed ( ex. ground). All products claiming to be natural must be accompanied by a brief statement which explains what is meant by the term natural. ("no artificial ingredients”, “minimally processed," etc.)¹ There are no regulations defining how the animals must be treated, raised, or fed.

Naturally Raised Livestock used for the production of meat must be raised without the use of growth promotants or antibiotics, and cannot be fed animal by-products.¹ There are no standards or requirement that the animals must be raised in their natural environment, raised humanely, or raised free from confinement.

Free Range Producers that claim their animals are free range must provide the animals with continuous, free access to the out-of-doors for over 51% of the animals' lives.¹ Animals can still be caged or confined for 48% of their life, raised on concrete slabs or confined in small outdoor pens or enclosures. For example: chickens can still be raised in dark poultry houses so long as they have access to the out-of-doors, but feed and water can be kept in areas that would discourage them from going outside

Pasture Raised or Free Roaming Livestock must have continuous free access to the out-of-doors for a significant portion of their life.¹ No exact time frame is defined, and animals can still be raised on concrete or wood slatted floors. The USDA does not require the animals to actually live on pasture.

Certified Organic In short, all organic livestock operations that sell over $5,000/year of organic products must be certified by a USDA-accredited certifying agent. Dairy animals must be fed and managed organically for at least one year prior to the production of organic milk. Slaughter animals must be managed organically from the last third of gestation, or from the second day after hatching for poultry. Feed must be 100% organic. All livestock must have access to the outdoors, and ruminants must have access to pasture during the growing season.¹ There is ambiguous language within the certified organic program that allows producers to confine ruminants within feedlots for up to 244 days each year, and they can still be fed high amounts of grain. There are no living condition standards specific to hogs or poultry. Access to pasture and/or dirt is not required for hogs and poultry, therefore, they can be raised on concrete slabs or on slatted flooring.

Our Claim R Heritage Farms’ claim to All Natural, Naturally Raised, Pastured Pork and Poultry is genuine, justifiable, and truthful. Our own standards far exceed those outlined by the USDA because our animals have unlimited access to dirt and/or pasture, clean water, sunshine, and fresh air. We raise our animals humanely and ethically, and by providing them with pasture and forest land they live in a habitat that is conducive to their needs and resembles their natural environment. They are never fed antibiotics, hormones, animal by-products, A-Preservatives, chemicals, etc. Our finished products do not contain artificial ingredients, coloring, flavoring, etc.

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