The Department of Agriculture recently released its long-gestating definition of "naturally raised" meat. Previously, the word "natural" had been ill-defined and virtually unregulated. The new standard is a step in the right direction for our nation's food supply, but doesn't go nearly far enough.
Under the USDA's new standard, producers or sellers of meat who want to claim it is natural must ensure that "livestock used for the production of meat and meat products have been raised entirely without growth promotants, antibiotics (except ionophores for parasite control) and have never been fed animal by-products."
There are several serious flaws with USDA's proposed approach. First, the new definition makes no demands on meat producers to provide natural living conditions of their animals. "Naturally raised" doesn't mean that the animal was raised with access to the outdoors or even the opportunity to exercise.