The USDA announced today that it will take new steps “to ensure the integrity of animal-raising claims and level the playing field for producers who are truthfully using these claims.”
Animal-raising claims include “grass-fed,” “free-range,” and other voluntary marketing claims highlighting how animals for meat and poultry products are sourced.
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) updated its guidelines on these claims in 2019 and has received several requests to reevaluate how it substantiates them. In particular, petitioners have questioned the truth of “negative” antibiotics claims, like “raised without antibiotics.” The FSIS is considering either requiring lab testing results or starting a new verification sampling program.
FSIS also plans to encourage companies to get third-party certification to verify its claims.
“Together these actions will be used to guide potential rulemaking on animal-raising claims. USDA looks forward to continued engagement with stakeholders as it works to ensure these claims meet consumer expectations,” the agency said in the announcement.