What Do the Labels Mean?

11/14/2013 3:46:23 PM
Teresa Bjork


If you’re into bargain shopping, then you are probably checking out the grocery store ads right now, trying to find the best deal on a Thanksgiving turkey. Is it worth paying more for a “gourmet” bird with all the labels?

When you’re shopping for turkey, keep in mind that a “hormone free” label is a marketing claim. All turkeys are raised without added hormones, as required by federal law.

And despite labels claiming that turkey is “antibiotic free,” all poultry and meats sold at the grocery store are free of antibiotics.

While farmers sometimes use antibiotics to promote animal health, they must follow strict federal dosing and withdrawal guidelines. This means that farmers must wait a certain amount of time after administering antibiotics to send the animal to market.

In addition, the US National Residue Program randomly tests treated animals for antibiotic residues before the flock goes to market. If an unsafe residue is found, the entire flock is held back until samples prove that the meat is safe, according to the Iowa Turkey Federation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers an in-depth list of the most common labels on turkey packaging and what they mean


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