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For the past several years, I've tried to purchase meat from animals raised without hormones. I'm lucky to live near a couple of butchers shops that carry "natural" meats, but I'm not sure what, if any, rules apply to calling meats "natural." I assume that such meat comes from animals that were raised without hormones and without anitbiotics in their feed, but I've never known for sure.

Are there regulations that have to be met in order to label meat "natural," and if so, what are they?

Thanks for your time.

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Hi Janet, This has been a very confusing situation for consumers and marketers

alike, but the USDA has developed very specific definitions of such

terms as natural, organic, certified, etc. In fact, the USDA's

definition of organic is in excess of 500 pages long.

Here is a link to the USDA Web site that defines many labeling terms and

the USDA's definitions.

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oa/pubs/lablterm.htm

Essentially, the term "natural" by USDA standards means "minimally

processed," i.e. does not fundamentally alter the raw product. The use

of subtherapeutic antibiotics and supplemental hormones ARE allowed.

By comparison, to be labeled organic, cattle must raised on certified

organic fed throughout its lifetime. Subtherapeutic antibiotics and

supplemental hormones ARE NOT allowed.

EL

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