Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Under USDA Proposal, Beef Can Be Labeled "Grass Fed" Even If It's Feedlot Raised

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing a new standard to lower the bar on what it means for a cow to be "grass fed." If this passes, beef marketers can sell their beef as "grass fed" as long as they were fed grass at some point in time, but it doesn't have to be grass that they eat while on the open range.

It would also allow cows to be fed "immature corn silage" which you would think would constitute a "corn fed" cow, but under this proposal, it's still grass. Apparently, corn is considered a grass until it starts to sprout the ears, but the USDA is trying to push the definition a little.

And finally, this proposal would allow cows that are injected with antibiotics and hormones to be called grass fed as well. This has the American Grassfed Association up in arms, but I don't really understand that part. It seems like the antibiotics and hormones are a separate issue from whether a cow is grass fed or not. Still, if they can constrict those practices, that would be great, I don't like having them in there anyway.

This is why I tend to ignore the labels on meat or other produce and put my trust into the retailer. I talked about this in my previous post "How to Close the Organic Gap."

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