What’s the Difference Between Natural and Organic Beef?

February 12, 2020 12:19 am Published by Leave your thoughts

If you go to the store or the meat market and take a look at some of the labeling, you’re likely to come across the words “natural” and “organic.” It’s important to note that these are not interchangeable terms. It’s a common misconception that “natural” and “organic” mean the same thing when referring to foods like beef. However, there are different certification standards. While most organic products are natural, not all natural products are organic.

Here’s a closer look at the differences between natural beef vs. organic beef and what you should keep in mind when making your purchase decisions in Williamsport, PA.

Natural beef

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) official definition for “natural” meat, poultry and egg products is that they are minimally processed, or at least processed in a way that does not alter the product on a “fundamental” level, without any artificial ingredients. This definition does not include any statements or standards with regard to how the animal is raised. The USDA’s definition of natural beef would mean, for example, that meat containing added coloring or other additives would not be considered natural.

However, it’s important to note that the official “natural” label might differ slightly from what you, as a consumer, would consider to be “natural.” The beef could still be given hormones, GMOs or antibiotics and be labeled “natural” under the USDA guidelines. This is why it’s important you understand who and where you’re getting your beef from, so you can have a better sense of the history of the meat and the animal.

Organic beef

There are more stringent standards for organic products than for natural products. Under the USDA regulations, the term “organic” for beef will meet some extra standards that natural beef does not.

For example, all ranchers raising organic cattle must not use any pesticides in the feeds for grain-fed beef. They must also follow non-chemical practices at the farm, such as not spraying any pesticides on the grass. For grass-fed beef ranchers, the organic label becomes more difficult to achieve because, taking these standards into consideration, it essentially means the grass fields must also be certified organic before the meat can be.

There are 48 certifying agencies accredited by the USDA. You’ll probably see labels that identify the agency that certified the company.

It’s important to note that there are circumstances in which “natural” or “organic” may just be marketing jargon as opposed to indicating products that actually meet those standards. Therefore, it’s important for you to actually read the labels and ensure the product has been certified by one of those aforementioned accredited agencies. The term “natural” can be especially misleading due to marketing, so it’s important that you more closely analyze the packaging for those types of products before making your purchase.

In general, though, you’ll be able to trust the quality of the meat much more from a local butcher or deli than you would from a larger chain grocery store. The butcher will be able to tell you all about their supply line and the meat they carry.

For more information about natural beef vs. organic beef in Williamsport, PA, contact Tony’s Delicatessen & Fresh Meats today.

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