USDA Drops Grass-Fed Label Standards
It rather looks like the USDA has duped us. It seems the term grass-fed was merely a marketing concept in their eyes and, unfortunately, they don’t consider verifying such claims to be their job. So, they revoked the term altogether along with any standards there may or may not have been.
However, it gets better. The term really is not going away, just the STANDARDS that support it. Essentially, producers can slap a “grass-fed” label on any piece of meat, or dairy product without having to prove it is actually grass fed. The USDA will still have to regulate the grass fed foods, only without defining what actually qualifies as "grass fed".
"How can this be?" You may ask, "Isn't the role of the FDA and USDA to protect us?" I asked that very question and here is what I learned when it comes to their standards with labeling.
This revelation uncovers an uncomfortable fact for clean eaters who’ve relied on standards for grass-fed meats. The standards were not very thorough in the first place. Meat that bared he label may have been given anti-biotics, or hormones. Hay may have been considered “grass” and the animal could’ve been raised in an enclosed pen and not raised in an open pasture as one would assume.
You will need to dig deeper than the USDA to find out if the meat qualifies as clean and was produced in an ethical manner. At the grocery store, look for meat certified by the American Grass-Fed Association. They guarantee animals were fed only grass and forage, were raised in open pastures, and are free of hormones and antibiotics. If you are unable to find certified meat, you can check with local farmers markets. Just be sure to ask many questions. Like, was the animal in a pasture year round? Do you feed them grain? Do you use antibiotics or hormones? It becomes our responsibility to verify the meat is clean and ethical. Grass-fed meat is not cheap, and we ought to know what we are getting for the money we spend rather than relying on a government label.