Decoding food labeling
Do you wonder how to recognize GMO produce in the fresh food section of the grocery store? Click on the Foodstab for information to give meaning to the ID numbers
Here is how to identify GMO produce:
According to Prevention magazine it is possible to identify GMO produce at some produce outlets by looking at the code number on the label. Produce grown conventionally, using chemicals, have a four-digit number beginning with 3 or 4. A ‘Honeycrisp’ apple, for example, has the code 3283 on its sticker. The code for a ‘Granny Smith’ apple is 4017. Organically-grown produce has a five-digit number starting with the number 9. Genetically modified produce also uses
a five-digit number, but begins with the number 8. A genetically modified zucchini squash, for example, has a code that reads 84067. The difference between the three codes helps the store track sales for each type.
Just what exactly do the organic food labels mean? Most of us realize that labels for organic foods have as many shades of meaning as "hot" or "cold". But in the case of supposedly organic foods, there are explanations. The newsletter, Nutrition Action Healthletter, October 2012, offers a quick guide to the various labels:
No Antibiotics Added - If beef, pork, lamb or poultry, documentation is required. No procedure for verifying claim on eggs, milk or fish.
Cage-free Poultry - Not confined to cages. May or may not have access to outdoors.
Hormone-free - Illegal claim. All animals produce hormones.
Natural - Contains no artificial ingredients or added colors, and is no more than "minimally processed." Does NOT mean organic or raised in any particular way. Official definition applies only to meat, chicken and eggs, not other fresh or packaged foods.
No hormones Administered - If on beef, documentation is required. Meaningless on pork and chicken sine hormone use is never permitted. No procedure for verifying claim on milk, fish or eggs.
Certified Humane Raised and Handled - Animals have ample space and shelter and are able to perform natural behaviors like dust bathing (chickens) or rooting (pigs). No cages or crates are used. Feed contains no added antibodics or hormones. Humanely slaughtered. Other certifications with higher standars are: Animal Welfae Approved and American Humane Certified.
Free-Range (Free-Roaming) - Poultry has access to the outdoors, but for no minimum time. No official definition for beef.
Grass-Fed - Animals get most of their nutrients from grass throughout their lives. Unless also labeled organic, they may be given antibiotics, hormones, and insecticides.
Vegetarian-Fed - Feed does not contain animal byproducts like feather meal, chicken litter, dried blood, or ground up[ meat, poultry or fish.
Pasture-Raised - No official meaning.