When you are at the grocery store perusing the organic meats selection, the wide array of packaged meats may all look the same to you. Meat products that are labeled as “organic” fulfill a set of requirements set by various regulations and laws that determine where that meat comes from.
The term “organic” can’t be used by just any meat producer. Using this term on the label of your product means that the producer is following organic practices and that someone is checking to make sure that the producers maintain those practices. This label also means that you can trace the life of this product. Organic farmers have to document that they are maintaining organic standards in every step of production, from the birth of the animal all the way to its slaughter.
The USDA is a certifying agent in the United States that certifies farms that use the “organic” label on their products. Farms that are certified organic must meet all national standards for production and handling practices in order to receive this certification.
When animal products are listed as organic they can not have been exposed to any antibiotics, growth hormones or drugs other than vaccinations.
The overuse of antibiotics in animal products have often been sited as the source for increasing issues with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. These medical issues have been known to cross over to humans. Often livestock are given low levels of various antibiotics in order to promote growth, even if the livestock aren’t unusually small or sick. If animals are raised organically, they may not be given antibiotics unless they have been removed from the rest of the herd. Once these animals have received antibiotics they may not be sold as organic. Growth hormones are also banned in raising organic livestock.
Another important aspect of organic certification is grazing requirements. Organic farms must allow for 120 days of grazing in well-managed pasture per year. The animals may not be fed ground animal parts or manure. Instances of these types of farming practices have occurred in the past. Feed must be grown organically, with no irradiation, synthetic pesticides, bioengineering or sewage sludge.
Organic farming strives to raise animals in an environment that most closely resembles their natural state. Therefore, animals raised on organic farms are treated more humanely. Animals that graze must have regular access to pasture lands. And while it's OK to cage poultry, they must have occasional access to the outdoor environment.
No Artificial Additives
In addition to all of this, organic meat products have no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives added. However, regulations do allow for some specific organic additives to be used on some occasions.
With all of these regulations in place, we can be assured of the safe, healthy, responsible environment our organic meats are coming from.