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Best-Kept Insights

Differences Between Organic and All Natural

Whether it’s due to health and wellness, ethics or the environment, more patrons are voicing curiosity and concern about how their food is grown or raised, beginning at the farm and ending in your kitchen. Patrons seek food that aligns with their value systems. We hope this information helps address patron questions and enables you to make choices that align your dishes with those values.

TWO IMPORTANT CLAIMS

When it comes to animal protein, there are practices and processes on the farm and in manufacturing that impact the finished product.

  • ORGANIC

    The certification “organic” or “organically produced” refers to an agricultural product that has been produced and handled in accordance with USDA certified organic production methods.

  • ALL NATURAL

    The USDA stipulates that products using claims “All Natural”, “100% Natural” and “Natural” must be no more than minimally processed and contain no artificial flavor, flavoring, coloring ingredient or chemical preservative, or any other artificial or synthetic ingredient.

ORGANIC PROTEIN

What does "organic" mean in terms of animal protein?“Organic” labels indicate that an agricultural product has been produced using methods that integrate cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster the cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity.¹When used as a label claim for animal protein products, “organic” certifies both land cultivation and animal livestock practices have been adhered to in accordance with USDA regulations.¹ USDA National Organic Program

LAND CULTIVATION REQUIREMENTS

For an animal protein product to be classified as “organic,” the animal must be raised on certified organic land meeting all organic crop production standards. Requirements include:

• Land that is managed in a manner that conserves natural resources and biodiversity
• Abides by the National List of Allowed & Prohibited substances
• Overseen by a USDA National Organic Program certifying agent

LIVESTOCK PRACTICE REQUIREMENTS

Farmers and ranchers raising organic livestock must accommodate the health and natural behavior of the animals year-round via specific practices as regulated by the USDA such as:

• Year-round access to the outdoors except during extreme conditions (i.e: inclement weather)
• Fed 100% certified organic feed except for trace minerals and vitamins used to meet the animal’s nutritional requirements
• Managed without antibiotics or added growth hormones. If approved treatment interventions fail, the animal must be given all appropriate treatments and if treated with a prohibited substance, the animal is not to be sold as organic.

LABELING

If the USDA organic seal is present on a product in either foodservice or retail, it is certified organic and contains 95% or more organic content. For multi-ingredient products, specific certified organic ingredients will be listed in the information panel.

WHY IS THIS A TOPIC OF CONVERSATION?

Today, patrons are making food choices based on their personal set of values. A focus on health and wellness, the environment and animal welfare are all possible key drivers when patrons choose to purchase organic products.

Proliferation of organic products has been slow because of the monetary and resource commitment it requires. Manufacturers need to balance the cost of bringing an organic product to market with what their operators/customers can and are willing to pay.

ALL NATURAL/ 100% NATURAL/ NATURAL

What does "natural" mean in terms of animal protein?In order for an animal protein to be labeled “natural,” it must be no more than minimally processed and contain no artifical flavor, flavoring, coloring ingredient or chemical preservative, or any other artificial or synthetic ingredient.

ARTIFICIAL INGREDIENTS

Ingredients that are not found in nature and must be synthetically produced are considered “artificial ingredients”.²

² Food & Drug Administration

ADDED COLORS

Any dye, pigment or substance which, when added or applied to a food is capable of imparting a color not natural to the product.

MINIMALLY PROCESSED

Minimal processing may include traditional processes used to make food such as grinding, chopping, pressing, smoking, cooking, freezing, drying and fermentation.³

³ USDA FSIS Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book

LABELING

As required by the USDA, meat and poultry products labeled as “natural” must be no more than minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients and no added colors. The USDA also requires that all products with a “natural” claim must include a statement that explains the use of the term, such as “no artificial ingredients, minimally processed.”

However, the natural label does NOT include any standards regarding farm practices and only applies to the finished meat product.

WHY IS THIS A TOPIC OF CONVERSATION?

Over the last ten years we’ve seen an evolution in clean eating and a shift in the how consumers eat. Today’s consumers seek a balanced approach and continue to look for ways to improve their overall health and wellness. Manufacturers are meeting this demand by focusing on cleaner ingredient statements and simplified production processes.

HORMEL FOODS’ POSITION

Hormel Foods recognizes that some groups of consumers and patrons are demanding cleaner ingredient labels. Our Foodservice Division strives not only to make all new innovations natural when possible, but is also actively reformulating existing products to remove, where appropriate, artificial ingredients and preservatives.

In addition to the 40+ items under our NATURAL CHOICE® Brand, we have over 30 other items that carry an “all natural” label. Not only do these products meet our highest standards for quality, taste and performance, they’re also made without artificial ingredients, added preservatives, MSG, or added chemical nitrates or nitrites.

CONSIDER US A RESOURCE AND A PARTNER

At Hormel Foods, we continue to focus on providing consumers with the highest quality, wholesome, nutritious, great-tasting and safe products. During each step of our production process, our commitment to food safety, quality, innovation and nutrition is unwavering.

We invite you to contact us below to continue this important dialogue and ask any questions you might have.

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