Lifestyle

New NCBA tools decode beef labels for consumers

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Find yourself often explaining the difference between grass-fed and grain-fed or what terms such as “antibiotic-free” and “raised without antibiotics” mean to consumers? New tools courtesy of the NCBA are now available to help answer these and many other questions about today’s beef production.

“Today’s consumer demands transparency and more information about how their food, including beef, is raised and grown,” said Mandy Carr, Ph.D., senior executive director of Science & Product Solutions for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff. “Cattle farmers and ranchers are committed to providing answers to their questions.”

Consumer research conducted by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and funded by the Beef Checkoff indicates that consumers are confused about terms commonly found on labels such as “grass-fed” and “organic.” Additionally, some consumers have questions about the use of antibiotics in cattle production. Two new fact sheets walk consumers through how cattle farmers and ranchers use antibiotics in accordance with Food and Drug Administration guidelines and the choices consumers have when buying beef in their local supermarket.

Decoding the Label: Know Your Beef Choices
Beef labels can be helpful, but they can also cause confusion in the meat case. Terms like grain-finished, grass-finished, certified organic, and naturally raised may be confusing to some; this fact sheet breaks down the four common labels and what they actually mean, based on U.S. Department of Agriculture definitions.

Antibiotics Use in Cattle
Antibiotic use in livestock is a hot topic with consumers. It is also top of mind for the beef producers who want consumers to know that we care about the issue and what we are doing to address it. The Antibiotic Use in Cattle fact sheet addresses consumer questions about how and why antibiotics are used and what the Beef Quality Assurance program is doing to educate producers about best practices. This tool helps consumers feel confident knowing that antibiotics are only given to cattle to treat, control, or prevent disease.

Research shows that 88 percent of the millennial parents polled approved of the new Antibiotics Use in Cattle fact sheet saying that it was meaningful and it made them feel better about how beef is raised.

“This feedback affirms these tools will be helpful as a resource for both our partners and consumers,” said Carr.

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