Meat and poultry companies can now apply to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to have their products labeled as certified organic, according to a rule published in the Federal Register on April 13. Under the rule, meat and poultry must be certified as 'organic' by one of 33 private or 11 state-run groups approved by the Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service. Certified meat should have "no antibiotics, no growth hormones and the animals have to be fed 100% organic feed." Congress asked the department to establish national standards for organically produced agriculture products in 1990 with passage of the Organic Foods Protection Act, but until now, meat and poultry have not been allowed to carry the organic label. The new labeling is an interim move until the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service proposes a definition of "organic" for all farm products, which is expected later this year. Until a final rule is published, the Food Safety and Inspection Service decided to allow meat and poultry companies to apply to have their products labeled as "certified organic." Less than 1% of the meat and poultry that is available is produced according to organic guidelines. Such organic products tend to be more expensive than products that do not carry the organic label.
COMMENT: This statement made just this week by the USDA is particularly timely in light of the Organic Health Newsletter detailed below. It is interesting to note that only 1% of the meat produced is organic.