Vanessa Sanchez/Contributing Writer
If you’re like me, you tend to go to the supermarket and spend hours reading food labels before you buy a particular food item.
It’s important to know what we are eating. However, this could be difficult if we don’t know exactly what a food label is telling us.Some food labels may say very little about the product and others contain information that is irrelevant.
For example, some statements made on food labels are required by law. Knowing what a food label is telling you will help you pick the best product for yourself and others.
“Raised without added hormones” is common statement seen on poultry and pork products. This is misleading. However, statements such as this are what allows items to be overpriced even though it is just like any other brand. It is prohibited by law for poultry and pork to be raised with added hormones.
A meat or poultry product labeled as natural is vague and leads to different interpretations by the consumer. However, natural, as stated by the USDA, means that meat and poultry products cannot contain artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or other artificial ingredients. It also means that the meat and poultry should be minimally processed.
Naturally raised is another very vague term. According to the USDA, a food product with such a label must meet the criteria: the animal should not have been given any growth enhancers or antibiotics and the animal should not have consumed food containing animal by-products. Naturally raised has nothing to do with animal welfare, such as, environmental and conservation issues that may be occurring on the farm, or if any animal cruelty is in practice.
Poultry labeled as fresh signifies that the poultry was not cooled below 26 degrees fahrenheit. This could mislead consumers who believe that fresh means the meat was never frozen, processed or preserved.
The label free range, as seen on poultry produced for meat and eggs, is only regulated by the USDA for poultry produced for meat. This label is neither regulated for pigs, cattle or egg-producing chickens.
Animal products could be labeled free range if the animal had some access to the outdoors each day for a certain amount of time. This amount of time could even be as little as a few minutes each day. It does not mean that the animal went outside and roamed freely.
Knowing what we are putting into our body is critical you must always remember to read the label and do your research before you buy a particular product. You might be picking up a something that is not what you expected and could seriously damage your body without the knowledge that you are even doing so.