Grass-fed meat will soon only be allowed to use the “grass-fed” label if the animals ate nothing but grass after being weaned, according to new standards from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The grass-fed label is currently unregulated and can be used for animals that were fattened on grains in the final weeks before processing.
The new rules, which take effect November 15, 2007, require that grass-fed animals eat nothing but grass and stored grasses, and have access to pasture during the growing season, which is defined as from last frost to first frost.
However, according to the American Grassfed Association, which represents many raisers of grass-fed animals, the definition of "growing season" means that animals could be confined for long periods, and kept off of pasture even when there is grass growing.
The new rules also do not restrict the use of antibiotics and hormones in the animals.
The American Grassfed Association is planning to set up its own certification system that would require animals to be on pasture year-round, and be free of antibiotics and hormones.
Increasing numbers of people are eating grass-fed meat because they believe it is better for the environment and healthier, with higher levels of omega-3 fats, than meat raised on grains.