Panera has rolled out a new ad campaign touting their “all natural, antibiotic-free chicken” and blogger Carrie has a great rundown on why it’s all a farce. Thanks to that post, I learned a lot more about chicken labelling and it’s not as hard as complicated as you think.
We all know that “all natural” is a bogus term that can mean anything, but did you know that technically, ALL CHICKEN is considered natural, farm raised, and hormone-free? Yup, so everyone from the mega market grocery store to McDonald’s and KFC can try to sell you on that bull. This information is straight from the Natural Chicken Council:
natural – USDA guidelines say that as long as it has no artificial ingredients, basically any raw food can be labelled natural
farm raised – all chicken comes from a farm, no matter how disgusting it might be
hormone-free – Hormone use is actually prohibited from all poultry raised in the US.
The next two are just slightly more complicated
antibiotic-free – The term “antibiotic-free” is unregulated. The Chicken Council even points out that “All chicken is “antibiotic-free” in the sense that no antibiotic residues are present in the meat due to the withdrawal periods and other precautions required by the government and observed by the chicken companies.” So everyone could also label their stuff antibiotic-free.
raised without antibiotics – If a company says “Raised without antibiotics” it does in have to mean that they have not used animal antibiotics, though they may have used other medicines. I can’t remember where I read this, but I heard that small indie farmers sometimes struggle with the decision to use antibiotics. Imagine being a small farmer who knows your animals personally, but then when it is sick you can’t give it medicine. It’s up to you and your meat source to consider.
Now that I know this, I will be less likely to get duped by “greenwash” marketing and I hope you do too. Let me know if you come across any other examples of bogus marketing.