FEED - February 2009, Union of Concerned Scientists

"Naturally raised" and "natural" standards for meat will create confusion

Over the objections of thousands of consumers and sustainable agriculture advocates, the USDA has approved a new process-verified label, "naturally raised," that meat producers can apply to use if they follow certain production practices. While UCS supports certain requirements of this label (restrictions on the use of animal by-products, added hormones, and antibiotics), we are dismayed that the USDA refused to address the central flaw with this proposal. Specifically, the USDA will continue to allow producers to use the claim "natural," which carries a very different meaning from "naturally raised." "Natural" can be applied to a meat label regardless of how an animal was raised, as long as the meat from the animal is "minimally processed" and has "no artificial ingredients" when it is sold on the market. Now "natural" and "naturally raised" products will be sold side-by-side on supermarket shelves, creating confusion over which product has been raised in a way that benefits human health and the environment. Read the description of "naturally raised" (pdf) available at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5075017