Antibiotics, hormones, organic, etc: What U.S. food labeling terms really mean

organic labeling on meat in US
 U.S. food labeling terms on meat in US - organic

All these terms can be confusing! Here are the official descriptions for the various U.S. food labeling terms, directly from usda.gov:

NATURAL:
A product containing no artificial ingredient or added color, and that is only minimally processed. Minimal processing means that the product was processed in a manner that does not fundamentally alter the product. The label must include a statement explaining the meaning of the term natural (such as “no artificial ingredients; minimally processed”).

NO HORMONES – pork or poultry:
[By U.S. law], hormones are not allowed in raising hogs or poultry. Therefore, the claim “no hormones added” cannot be used on the labels of pork or poultry unless it is followed by a statement that says, “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.”

NO HORMONES – beef:
The term “no hormones administered” may be approved for use on the label of beef products if sufficient documentation is provided to the Agency by the producer showing no hormones have been used in raising the animals.

NO ANTIBIOTICS – red meat and poultry:
The terms “no antibiotics added” may be used on labels for meat or poultry products if sufficient documentation is provided by the producer to the Agency demonstrating that the animals were raised without antibiotics.

ORGANIC:

Organic products have strict production and labeling requirements, and are monitored by the government. Unless noted below, organic products must meet the following requirements:

  • Produced without excluded methods (e.g., genetic engineering), ionizing radiation, or sewage sludge.
  • Produced per the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List).
  • Overseen by a USDA National Organic Program-authorized certifying agent, following all USDA organic regulations.
Raw or processed agricultural products in the “100 percent organic” category must meet these criteria:
  • All ingredients must be certified organic.
  • Any processing aids must be organic.
  • Product labels must state the name of the certifying agent on the information panel.
On multi-ingredient products, different icons mean different things in regard to how much of the product is organic. Here’s the official guide:
U.S. food labeling terms and logos
Sources:
Jana

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