Understanding Meat & Seafood Labeling
Natural: No artificial ingredients or color; not heavily processed - this label does not have a lot of regulation.
Free range/cage free: Chickens are not in cages - this does not mean they have access to the outdoors.
COOL (Country of Origin Labeling): Meat and seafood sold in the US must be labeled with the country of origin, i.e. Scotland, Argentina, etc.
Organic: Food with this label must adhere to the U.S.D.A.Organic standards which are quite strict. Animals must be fed 100% certified organic grain and/or forage (grasses and legumes); they may not be treated with growth hormones or antibiotics and they must have access to the outdoors for a specified number of days per year.
Certified Humane: Stipulates that dairy cows be allowed outside at least 4 hours per day; pregnant pigs have adequate bedding; chickens are kept on a flooring other than slats and wires. This label is administered by the Humane Farm Animal Care organization to encourage animals to be “free to do what comes naturally.”
Animal Welfare Approved: Animals must come from family farms (less than 1% of meat sold in the US) and adhere to high standards for weaning and access to the outdoors. This label is administered by the Animal Welfare Institute.
Grass-fed: By U.S.D.A. definition, animals must be fed only mother’s milk or grass or hay their entire lives and must have access to pasture during the growing season - they can have antibiotics and/or growth hormones.