What Do Meat Labels Mean?

An uncooked rib roast

Image via Wikipedia

Whether beef or poultry, you’ve probably seen various claims on the plastic wrapping your meat. Women’s Health Magazine published 10 Meaty Secrets Revealed and

decoded the claims on packaged meats to reveal what really matters when you’re scanning the butcher case.

Here are ten popular claims and their meanings:

What you need to know:

No matter how much regulation is enacted upon manufacturers, they will always find clever ways to market their products within the limitations set by the USDA and FDA. As consumers, we must be vigilant and understand whether a message is mere marketing or truly represents a special benefit.

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  • http://discoverbeef.blogspot.com Carrie Oliver

    Sorting through labels on meat is really tricky, this is a great post! One thing that might be of interest to you and your readers is that while USDA grade such as Prime, Choice, or Select, can be an indicator of taste and texture, it only goes so far. The truth is, beef is very much like wine: taste, texture, and overall quality can vary a lot depending on the breed, growing region, diet, aging technique and, frankly, the relative talents of those who bring it to our plates.

    Another secret is that stress can negatively impact both flavor and texture, so it really is worth looking for beef that’s been raised with care and without the use of preventative antibiotics or other growth stimulants.

    Bottom line, I have had absolutely delicious, very tender steaks that had virtually no marbling. Why? Because the beef came from a rancher and/or butcher who specialized in a specific breed or crossbreed and used outstanding husbandry practices to create artisan quality beef.

    Here’s another way to think about it. When you purchase a fine wine, at minimum you expect to know the grape variety, growing region, the aging process, and the name of the winemaker. Why don’t we ask the same information from our meat purveyors? It sure can make a big difference on the plate.

  • Stephanie

    When the meat label says USA/CANADA/MEXICO, does this mean that this meat came from Mexico? Can anyone explain this label?

    • http://www.fooducate.com/blog staff

      It means the meat could have come from either the US , Canada, or Mexico. Or any combination of the three, if there is more than one piece of meat in the package. That’s because large meatpacking factories may source their beef from many providers around the world.