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USDA to crack down on false labeling in meat and poultry industry

Tom Gantert

(The Center Square) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture will be cracking down on false claims on labeling of meat claiming it is "grass-fed," "free-range," "raised without antibiotics," or "no antibiotics ever."

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has received petitions, comments and letters asking the agency to boost oversight of marketing claims made by the meat and poultry industry, the agency said Wednesday in a news release. The agency will then determine if it needs to do more rulemaking on the industry's claims.

PROMO Government - USDA United States Department of Agriculture Building Washington DC - iStock - Melissa Kopka

© iStock - Melissa Kopka

Meat and poultry industry claims such as "grass-fed" and "free-range" are voluntary marketing claims that are approved by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The Food Safety and Inspection Service will revise its guidelines that recommend companies bolster documentation they submit to the agency "to substantiate animal-raising claims." The agency will also "strongly encourage" use of third-party certification of industry claims, according to the news release.

“Consumers should be able to trust that the label claims they see on products bearing the USDA mark of inspection are truthful and accurate,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a press release. “USDA is taking action today to ensure the integrity of animal-raising claims and level the playing field for producers who are truthfully using these claims, which we know consumers value and rely on to guide their meat and poultry purchasing decisions.”