The talk of antibiotics and additional hormones (and I say additional, because hormones exist naturally – yes they are naturally occurring in you and me, in plants and animals, in our pets and in our food production animals) always seems to be a conversation that people are passionate about. This post will help you better understand the labeling terms. The use of antibiotics and additional growth hormones by the industry will be posts for another day.
No-added hormones: All cellular organisms contain hormones, they are naturally occurring – there is no such thing as hormone free! When something is labeled “hormone free” or “no hormones”, it is a misnomer (as they are naturally occurring). The correct wording should be “no-added hormones”, “raised without added hormones”, “no hormones administered”, or “no synthetic hormones” (Labels that tell you a little, n.d.).
Hormones are NOT allowed in hog, poultry, or bison production. Yes, that is correct, no additional hormones are given to pigs, poultry, or bison!!
The statement “no hormones added” CANNOT be used on any packaging for pork, poultry, and/or bison items, unless it is followed by a statement that says “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in poultry/pork/bison” (Meat and poultry labeling terms, 2011; Labels that tell you a little, n.d.), so as not to mislead consumers into believing that these meat protein products were grown with additional hormones.
For other meat production animals, the term “no hormones administered” may be approved for use on the label if there is sufficient documentation indicating the producer has raised the animal without additional hormones (Meat and poultry labeling terms, 2011).
Labels indicating that no additional hormones were used can be used in any of the previously mentioned systems – organic, all-natural, naturally raised, grass-fed, grain-fed (organic and naturally raised are the only systems do not allow for the use of additional hormones). The no-added hormone labels do not account for the diet of the animal, access to pasture, or how the meat was processed.
No antibiotics: Is also referred to as “raised without antibiotics” or “no antibiotics administered”. The term “no antibiotics added” may be used on labels for meat and/or poultry products if the producer can provide sufficient documentation indicating the animal was raised without antibiotics (Meat and poultry labeling terms, 2011; Labels that tell you a little, n.d.). This indicates that no antibiotics were used on the animal in its lifetime. Antibiotics are used to prevent and treat disease in animals – just like in humans. If an animal does have to be treated with an antibiotic for illness, the meat, milk, and/or eggs cannot be sold in an organic or naturally raised system and cannot have a label with the wording “raised without antibiotics” (Meat and poultry labeling terms, 2011).
Labels indicating that no antibiotics were used can be used in any of the previously mentioned systems – organic, all-natural, naturally raised, grass-fed, grain-fed (organic and naturally raised are the only systems do not allow for the use of additional hormones). The no antibiotic labels do not account for the diet of the animal, access to pasture, or how the meat was processed.
When trying to decide which meat option is best for you, it is important to purchase meats that support your values and beliefs, as well as meats that fit into your budget. Shopping around is always advisable too. You have many options when it comes to purchasing meat, you may be able to purchase meat directly from a producer, a small or local butcher shop, your local retailer, a Farmer’s Market, or a bulk retailer. Finally, you may decide you prefer the taste of one of the meat types over another, and purchase based on taste and family preference.