Does Grass-Fed Still Mean Grass-Fed?
Conscious food consumers are inundated with claims on food labels, and we want to help you understand those claims. Recently, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced they are no longer overseeing the labeling of “grass-fed” programs. This is causing some confusion within the industry, and we can help clarify.
Who is AMS?
The Secretary of Agriculture created AMS in 1939 with the goal to market and drive sales of U.S. agricultural products – including food, fiber, and specialty crops – in both the domestic and international marketplace.
The sole mission of AMS is to promote agricultural products. Recently, Washington leadership reviewed the AMS charter and found that AMS had overstepped their boundaries by defining label claims and implementing raising programs. Therefore, it was necessary to return this responsibility to its rightful place – within the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S Dept. of Agriculture (USDA).
Who is FSIS?
FSIS oversees meat and protein programs, ensuring they are safe, wholesome, and truthful in their labeling. FSIS has rigorous oversight, strict rules and regulations, and a robust network of employees who work in the plants daily to ensure our food supply is safe. They oversee meat, dairy, poultry, and egg production, requiring that any claim made on a package is true.
The result of the AMS decision is that anyone making a claim, such as “grass-fed,” on a package now has stricter oversight from FSIS. All programs are now held to the same rigorous checks and balances system that is enforced daily in the plants by the FSIS team.
What about grass-fed certification?
The American Grassfed Association (AGA) and other 3rd-party groups (NGOs) offer varying program standards as well as the opportunity to utilize their logo/brands on labels of participating partners. Producers may or may not choose to work with an NGO as part of their business-decision process. It is important to note that regardless of affiliation/non-affiliation with an NGO, a producer who makes any label claim (such as grass-fed, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, etc) is still held to the same truth-in-labeling under FSIS.
Does this impact Strauss or Strauss customers?
Strauss works directly with farmers using our own proprietary standards, which go beyond many NGO standards and have always been approved by FSIS. Strauss family farmers join us in our mission to provide the best Free Raised® Grass Fed Beef – 100% grass-fed, grass-finished, on pasture, never given antibiotics or hormones, and enjoying a stress-free, humane environment.