Tuesday, August 18, 2009

D'Agostino's Premium Natural Angus Beef

(First of two parts)

One of my goals is to encourage others to start reading the ingredient lists on the food we buy. The few seconds spent identifying what is in our food can help us make better purchases. For example, there are plenty of fruit juices without added sugars and peanut butters without salt and hydrogenated oils.

Unfortunately, even in foods that aren’t packaged and heavily processed, it’s safe to assume that what we see isn’t all that we get. The terminology used on food packaging and in advertisements can be utterly confusing and somewhat misleading.

For example, the D’Agostino supermarket near my apartment has a sign in its window (photo, above right; click on it for more detail) extolling the benefits of the “Premium Natural Angus Beef” it sells under the in-house D’ 1932 Brand label. The fact that no antibiotics, added hormones and steroids have ever been used in the raising of the cattle is a major plus.

As I’ve previously written, most of the beef in the United States originates from commercial feedlots, where the use of antibiotics and hormones is standard procedure. A 2008 report from the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production detailed some of the dangers of the widespread use of antibiotics and hormones. (I’ll discuss this report in a future post.)

I went into the D’Agostino and observed the case where the Premium Natural Angus Beef was displayed. The no antibiotics, added hormones and steroids mantra was repeated. However, in the same case were packages of meat labeled “Premium Angus Beef.” I was curious about the absence of the word “natural.”

I asked the butcher if all the meat in the case (under both labels) was free of antibiotics, hormones and steroids.

“Yes,” he answered, sweeping his arms over the entire display.

(Tomorrow: The difference between the two labels)

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