USDA’s Ag Marketing Service (AMS) published a notice in the Jan. 16 Federal Register establishing a voluntary standard for a “naturally raised” marketing claim. Once the standard becomes effective, livestock producers may utilize AMS’s voluntary, third-party verification services to provide validity to naturally raised claims, and in certain cases, may have access to markets that require AMS certification.

The Naturally Raised standard is as follows: Livestock used for the production of meat and meat products raised entirely without growth promotants, antibiotics (except for ionophores used as coccidiostats for parasite control), and never fed animal (mammalian, avian or aquatic) by-products derived from the slaughter/harvest processes, including meat and fat, animal waste materials (e.g., manure and litter), and aquatic by-products (e.g., fishmeal and fish oil).

Product labels that include the voluntary “naturally raised” marketing claim would have to be submitted to the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) Labeling Program and Delivery Division for approval. FSIS will require processors to provide “substantiation” of the claim at the time of label approval application.

Also, the notice clearly states that the AMS “naturally raised” marketing standard “is independent of and distinct from FSIS label approval policies governing use of natural claims with regard to post-harvest processing. The naturally raised claim pertains only to pre-harvest livestock production practices.”

AMS will be working with FSIS on a forthcoming Federal Register document to develop a coordinated approach to defining labeling terms such as “natural” and “naturally raised.”
-- NMA Lean Trimmings newsletter