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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tailgate Lectures: A New Language

“Simbaws! C’mon cows, simbaws! Tera run down by the windmill around that drawl and round up that last mamma!”

Working the cows with my family is always a fun experience. First off, it is always a big production, everyone gets involved, and we always had bets placed on the new words that would fly out of Grandpa’s mouth. Nobody really knows what the word, “simbaws” means or how to spell it for that matter, but my brother and I have a pretty good idea of what the “drawl” in our south pasture is. My grandpa’s language was definitely one of a kind!

Now, there is another language in production agriculture that can be pretty hard for consumers to understand. Walking down the meat aisle at the grocery store got me to thinking about how people are expected to understand what this food language really means. At least our meat choices aren’t labeled with words like, “simbaws” but some of them don’t seem any better!

These are some common labels found on meat products that are recognized and defined by the USDA. There is an Agricultural Marketing Service department of the USDA and they take care of this language:


A product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed. The label must also explain the use of this label. For example, if the product does not include added color that is what must be stated in the label.


The term "no hormones administered" may be approved for use on the label of beef products if sufficient documentation is provided to the Agency by the producer showing no hormones have been used in raising the animals. This label cannot be used on pork or poultry products because the use of hormones are not allowed with those two species.


"Kosher" may be used only on the labels of meat and poultry products prepared under Rabbinical supervision.


Producers must demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to an outside environment.


The term is not allowed to be used on a label.


This is a whole new blog topic! If you’d like to learn more about this program, please refer to these factsheets put out by the USDA. 

I would like to point out that while food is often placed in a category with these labels that explain different production practices, it does not change the nutritional value of the product. Organic beef is just as healthy as conventionally produced beef. Kosher poultry has no nutritional differences from free range poultry. If you ever have questions about food labels, the USDA is a great source of information.

 - Tera Rooney

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