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.