Several months ago I sent an inquiry to a pork producer asking a question about their website's statement that their pork is "All Natural". I don't know for certain, but I am guessing that most people don't really know a great amount of detail regarding what the term "natural" refers to on their meat.
I made an assumption that "natural" meant no hormones, no antibiotics, and non-GMO feedstock. But you know what they say about those who make assumptions....:-)
Today I received a response from the pork producer stating that their pork contains no hormones and no antibiotics, but that they do use GMO corn. I personally do not consider GMO corn as natural, but before I allowed myself to get too excited about it I did some additional research on USDA.gov .
Here are the definitions quoted from the Food Labeling page of USDA.gov:
A product containing no artificial ingredient or
added color and is only minimally processed. Minimal processing means that the
product was processed in a manner that does not fundamentally alter the product.
The label must include a statement explaining the meaning of the term natural
(such as "no artificial ingredients; minimally processed").
(pork or poultry):
Hormones are not allowed in raising hogs or
poultry. Therefore, the claim "no hormones added" cannot be
used on the labels of pork or poultry unless it is followed by a
statement that says "Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones."
The term "no hormones administered"
may be approved for use on the label of beef products if
sufficient documentation is provided to the Agency by the producer showing no
hormones have been used in raising the animals.
NO ANTIBIOTICS (red meat and
The terms "no antibiotics added" may be used on labels
for meat or poultry products if sufficient documentation is provided by the
producer to the Agency demonstrating that the animals were raised without
I learned some things I didn't know and cleared up some assumptions that I made when purchasing meat at the local grocery store. I suspect that I am not alone in the basic assumptions I made, but I don't know for sure. Maybe no one but me really worries about things like that? :-)