Food Label Guide: Beef

Despite slightly declining beef consumption rates in this country, beef is still what’s for dinner in many American households. And industrial beef production has an incredibly large foodprint, taking a toll the environment, animals and eaters. But there are beef production methods that are more sustainable — and our label guide can help you find them.

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Our Top Picks

All of our top picks are certified grassfed labels. Each of these grassfed labels require that, at a minimum, cattle were raised on pasture and ate a grass-based diet, without grain, animal byproducts or unnecessary drugs. The animals were never confined and raised only on pasture raised without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. A natural ruminant diet (grass) is better for the health of the animals and makes for meat with better nutrient profile. Healthy, diverse pasture is also better for the planet.

[Note that there are food companies who call their meat “grassfed” without any official certification or verification. They do not necessarily meet these same standards, and would only pertain to the feed being grass (and none of the other criteria that a certified grassfed label would cover)].

Labels Lacking Clear Standards

The terms below lack clear standards, verification processes or independent oversight, allowing farm conditions to vary widely across producers.

  • “Natural”
  • “Pasture-raised”
  • “Grain-finished”
  • “Humane”/”Humanely-raised”
  • “No Antibiotics”

Other Labels to Look For

These labels are not as comprehensive as our top picks.