Organic vs. Natural
Organic is not the same as natural. Meat bearing the USDA organic seal must adhere to a strict set of federal standards and regulations, such as those outlined below. "Natural" meat is not held to such strict standards.
The philosophy of organic production is to provide conditions that meet the health needs and natural behavior of the animal.
Thus, organic livestock:
Must be given access to the outdoors, fresh air, water, sunshine, grass and pasture
Must be fed 100 percent organic feed.
Must be given shelter that is designed to allow the animal comfort and the opportunity to exercise.
Must not be fed animal byproducts of any sort at any time.
Must not be fed plastic pellets or formulas containing urea or manure.
Must not be treated with antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones.
To read specific organic livestock requirements, including feed, health care practices, and living conditions, see: www.ams.usda.gov/nop/NOP/standards/prodhandreg.html.
In processing operations that handle both organic and non-organic meat products, processors must segregate their handling of organic and non-organic meat. There also are specified cleaning agents that are allowed and prohibited in such operations.
Because farmers and handlers must keep extensive records as part of their farm and handling plans in order to be certified organic, the organic production system offers traceability of the animal from birth to marketing of the resulting meat. Thus, when one purchases organic meat, there is a guarantee of traceability.
Marketing of organic meat
Under national organic standards, when marketed as organic, meat by itself is 100 percent organic. If a consumer buys organic hamburger, it means that all of the meat has been produced organically. Additionally, when meat carries the USDA organic seal, by law it is prohibited from being made with ammonia and "pink slime."
*Photo courtesy of Rocky Moutnain Organic Meats