Beef Cattle And The Label Have you ever
heard the phrase "It's all in the Label?"
There is a huge variety of beef products available for today’s
consumer’s to enjoy, and as diets and attitudes toward nutrition change, so to has the beef
Consumers will always dictate the type of products and services offered within the
industry. Despite highs and lows throughout the years in consumption, thankfully, for ranchers with small or large
operations, America’s love of beef and beef products shows little sign of waning,
Consumers will see a host of terms on the labels in America’s grocery stores indicating how animals were raised
but, in the end, there are really four types marketed by producers. These are conventional, branded, certified
organic and grass-finished.
This category defines almost all of the beef you see in the grocery store meat
section. This generally comes from pasture-raised cattle that are grain-fed for 120-200 days prior to harvest. Most
of the beef you see in your grocery store’s meat case is conventional. The grain feeding period increases the
quality and tenderness of the meat.
Natural beef refers to beef that has been minimally processed and
contains no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. This applies to all meat without an ingredient label.
Labels are added if the product includes a marinade or solution.
Branded beef products All
brands are inspected just as any other; however, some companies request government approval of their product label
through the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) or Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).
A brand could be based on the breed of cattle or a name given to a program that
follows certain guidelines. Ultimately, it is the decision of the company behind their brand as to what brand to
assign. Brand marketing is big business and branded beef is sold at restaurants and grocery stores. Some familiar
types of branded beef include "Certified Angus Beef" and "Cattleman’s Collection."
Certified organic beef
Certified organic beef must meet USDA National Organic Program
standards. For beef, this means:
* Cattle must be fed 100 percent organic feed, but may be provided certain vitamin and
* Organically raised cattle may not be given hormones to promote growth or antibiotics for
any reason. However, if an animal is sick, the animal cannot be denied treatment to ensure its health; any animal
that is treated with antibiotics is taken out of the National Organic Program.
* Practically all cattle meet the national organic standard that requires ruminants to
have access to pasture.
* Organic beef must be certified through USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).
Organic beef produced conventionally
Some organic beef is conventionally produced, where cattle are raised in pastures
for the majority of their lives, typically 12 to 18 months, and then are fed a grain-based diet for approximately
120 to 200 days. The grain, however, must be sourced from organic farmers and must also be certified organic by
Grass-finished beef comes from cattle that have grazed in pastures their entire
lives. This beef is not necessarily raised organically and is only organic if it has the appropriate label.
Remember, in the end, it all comes down to consumer tastes and trends.
Beef Cattle Basics