USDA to Define What "Natural" Meat Means

I can hardly believe it but the USDA is about to define what "natural" means for meat and poultry products (on the link, look for Docket No. FSIS-2006-0040A).

At the moment, the USDA has two definitions of "natural." Its Food Safety and Inspection Service says meat and poultry can be labeled "natural" if they are only minimally processed and don't have any artificial flavorings, colorings, preservatives, or other additives.

But the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service says "natural" means the meat must come from animals raised with no hormone growth promoters, no antibiotics, and no animal by-products. Hmm. How about all of the above?

Let's hear applause for the new USDA administration for taking this on. OK FDA: now it's your turn!

For more on the topic of defining "natural" meat, click here.

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Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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