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Posted on December 28, 2009
Labels on fresh supermarket beef have all sorts of stamps and and certifications on them, but it’s hard to guess what they all might mean. Here’s an interactive beef label decoder to help you figure it out.
Whether you want to know where your beef’s been for philosophical or health reasons, this web-based tool will give you some insight. For instance, if the package bears a stamp reading “USDA Organic,” you know the cow was fed only 100% organic grass, grain and corn.
A quick tour through all the labels gives you a great overview of how to tell if your steak comes from a cow that may have been given growth hormones, or if your burger could contain the remnants of antibiotics given to an ill animal.
If you want to dig a little deeper into how the way a cow was raised impacts your diet, be sure to take a look at what the Decoder has to say about things like why the type of feed cows have access to is important.
Conventional cattle are fed on a diet of corn and grain, both of which contribute to common and painful health problems and can lead to higher levels of E. Coli bacteria in meat. Grass, however, is healthier for cattle and for meat eaters. Compared with grain- and corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef has less fat, less cholesterol and fewer calories. Grass-fed beef also has a higher concentration of vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids.
Sure, this isn’t the most appetizing thing to think about before your next cookout (or, in the more northerly parts of the world right now, fancy steak purchase) but it’s good information to have. Got any good resources for learning more about what’s in the foods we eat? Share them in the comments.