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Where Did Your Beef Come From?

January 21, 2019

Where Did Your Beef Come From?

Where Did Your Beef Come From?

One of the primary attractions of locally produced, grass-fed beef is the simple fact that you know exactly where you beef came from. In some cases, you might even have met the farmer who raised the cattle.

That’s a factor that is hard to overestimate. Study after study has shown the importance of locally sourced food. It’s good for the local environment and economy, in addition to the health benefits inherent in grass-fed beef.

Those benefits include more vitamins and antioxidants. And, as with beef from Acabonac Farms, beef that is genuinely grass-fed and pasture-finished contains none of the growth-promoting hormone or antibiotics often found in beef produced by the food industry.

Now, more questions are being raised about where the beef sold in supermarkets comes from - an issue every health-conscious consumer should understand.

Deceptive and Misleading

A recent petition filed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is calling into question the practice from some food industry giants of labeling their beef as a “product of U.S.A.”

In short, they are saying that is simply not the case. The petition, filed by the Organization for Competitive Markets and the American Grass-fed Association, calls the practice “deceptive and misleading.”

Why? The organizations claim that ambiguous language in U.S. law allows companies to label beef “product of the U.S.A.” if the meat is processed in a USDA-inspected facility. That’s the case even if the beef was imported from other countries.

There already are concerns about the average “food miles” products travel from the farm to your table - more than 1,000 miles on average. But the petitioner's claims take that to a whole new level.

Country of Origin

In 2015, a law mandating that beef packaging contain a “country of origin” label was repealed. According to the petition, that led global meatpacking companies to move beef through facilities in the U.S., so they could attach the “product of U.S.A.” label.

So, where’s the beef coming from? If you read the fine print on some packages, you may discover your U.S. beef came from cattle that never took a breath on American soil.

Instead, many are imported by food industry giants from places such as Australia and Uruguay. From a business standpoint, it helps them lower prices and continue to undercut the price of grass-fed beef actually raised by farmers in the U.S.

But for consumers, it’s a huge issue, as well.

Why Consumers Care

A comprehensive study from Consumer Reports found that shoppers by an overwhelming margin want more information on packaging - including accurate information on where the cattle were raised.

The survey findings included the following.

  • 87% of consumers want to know the country of origin of their food
  • 74% want to know the state of origin within the U.S.
  • 93% want to know if meat comes from outside the country
  • 60% want information on where the cattle were raised and where they were slaughtered

Those numbers all provide a clear indication of how important this issue is for consumers. And it also shows how potentially misleading the current labeling process is, if the petition filed with the USDA is correct.

As stated from the outset, all of this can be avoided by purchasing grass-fed, pasture-finished beef from local farmers. More people are seeing the value in this, as well. The number of grass-fed beef buyers has grown in recent years and is expected to continue to do so.

For health-conscious beef-buyers on Long Island, it’s an easy choice.

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