May 09, 2021   2:18am

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Stefanie Talks: What those labels on poultry & meat really mean

The meat and poultry labels at grocery stores seem designed to confuse — and they succeed. Our nutritional expert Stefanie tells us what they really mean …

Natural (All natural)
Although some companies use it to define animal products that are free of growth hormones and antibiotics, others (including some major well recognized poultry manufacturers) use the term freely, but their animal products are not free from either hormones or antibiotics. Essentially natural means nothing unless clearly defined.

Naturally raised
Typically means that animals were raised without growth hormones or antibiotics but still needs to be clearly defined.

Free range/roaming
The animals have access to the outdoors. This does not mean, by any stretch, that the animals are raised humanely. Typically there is overcrowding, and hormones and antibiotics could be administered.

Cage free
The birds are out of the cage. Typically they are kept indoors and not necessarily treated humanely.

Vegetarian diet
This means just what it says. The animals are fed a vegetarian diet of grain or grass. The reason this is stated on many packages is that there has been some concern that our livestock is fed rendered animal parts.

Grass fed
Animals that live in a pasture — rather than a feedlot — eat a grass-based diet and are treated humanely. They are not given any growth hormones and typically no antibiotics.

The animal is raised without any hormones or antibiotics.

Animals that are treated humanely, are never administered hormones or antibiotics and eat an organic diet (thus, they are not consuming feed with antibiotic and pesticide residues).

The healthiest overall choice when buying poultry or meat is ORGANIC. However, organic options can be hard to come by (depending upon where you are), and they are on the pricey side. Thus, the next best option is simply hormone and antibiotic-free which often may say: “Animals are treated humanely and fed a vegetarian diet.”

Check out these high quality poultry and meat products:

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