The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is taking action to safeguard customers against inaccurate meat labeling. For health reasons or personal preference, many consumers choose beef farmed without antibiotics, yet some manufacturers might be misrepresenting their goods by making deceptive marketing claims on their product labels.
The USDA declared that it would improve its procedures for verifying claims made by farmers on the care of livestock and poultry. The program fits in with the USDA’s initiatives to “protect consumers from false and misleading labels,” according to a news release. For example, litigation against businesses that falsely label items as “all-natural” have grown recently.
Action Against False Meat Labels
In an announcement issued Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said consumers should have confidence that the labels on products bearing USDA marks of inspection are accurate. Marketing claims on an increasing number of animal products, such as “free-range,” “grass-fed,” and “no antibiotics ever,” should be accepted by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the USDA.
The animal protection organization Farm Forward performed research in 2022 and discovered that meat labeled as having “no antibiotics ever” really included antibiotics and other medications. All around the country, Whole Foods stores offered these goods for sale.
- USDA protects consumers against inaccurate meat labeling, preventing deceptive marketing claims.
- USDA requires truthful label claims on animal products, including free-range, grass-fed, and no antibiotics.
- Research shows grass-fed and free-range meats may have more protein, health benefits, and lower fat content.
Despite being USDA-certified, 42% of beef animals labeled as “raised without antibiotics” in 2022, according to another study, had received antibiotics. Additionally, statements that animals are raised “humanely” or “ethically” have come under investigation by organizations that support animal rights.
Assessing antibiotic residues in cattle that will ultimately be sold as meat “raised without antibiotics,” the USDA will work with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service to determine the best course of action for its vetting procedures.
Look for third-party certifications, and advises the consumer. The USDA says that it will “strongly encourage the use of third-party certification to verify these claims.” Until then, mislabeled goods might still be accessible.
Grass-fed and free-range meats may have more protein than animals reared conventionally, according to research, albeit the total nutritional differences may be small. However, going with organic or grass-fed over conventional farming methods may have certain health benefits. Beef from cattle reared conventionally and fed soy, maize or both tend to be thinner than beef from those kept on grass.
Furthermore, grass-fed and organic beef may have higher concentrations of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which helps reduce the incidence of antibiotic resistance. Overall, factors including nutrition, portion sizes, and cooking techniques affect the health advantages of meat consumption.