Explore Labels:

Explore the sections individually or read through each of them to test your knowledge!
Organic
Conventional
Eggs
Poultry
Beef
Pork
Organic and Natural Processed Food
Overview
The processed food label can be found on anything from cereal to potato chips and may be on an organic or conventional food product. Because most food in the grocery store is processed in some way, this label is the most common label consumers encounter.

Certain information is mandatory on all of these labels:
  • name of the food
  • nutrition fact
  • net weight of the contents
  • name and address of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor
  • ingredients list

Other information is voluntary and included by the manufacturer for resale purposes and can include claims about the nutritional content of the product or how it has been processed. The label included here contains many of the commonly used claims on organic and "natural" processed food products.

Click a term to learn more!

Terms to look for
Free Range

The USDA has not provided a precise definition of this term. If a USDA-inspected producer wants to use the term "free range," the agency must first verify the claim prior to its inclusion on the label. The USDA will allow the use of the term if the flock was provided shelter in a building, room, or area with unlimited access to food, fresh water, and continuous access to outdoors, which can simply mean the facility has a window.
Cage Free

This term is not defined by the USDA. However, if a USDA-inspected producer wants to use the term "cage free" on its packaging, the agency must first verify the claim. The USDA will allow the use of the term if the poultry flock was able to freely roam a building, room, or enclosed area with unlimited access to food and fresh water.
Vegetarian Fed

This term is not defined by the USDA. A producer may use this term on a label if the poultry feed does not include animal byproducts. No independent third party verifies this claim and the USDA does not require any verification before its inclusion on a label.
Antibiotic Free/No Antibiotics

This language may be used on a label if the producer can provide "sufficient documentation" to the USDA to show the animal was raised without the use of antibiotics.
All Natural

This claim has not been precisely defined by the USDA, however, it means that the product is free of artificial ingredients or added colors and has only been minimally processed. Minimal processing means that the product was processed in a way that has not fundamentally changed the product. If a producer chooses to use this term, the label must include a statement explaining how the producer has defined the term. E.g., the label must say "no artificial ingredients" or "minimally processed."
Pasture Raised

This claim is not defined by the USDA. The term suggests that the animal was raised outside or on pasture, but because there is no legal definition of this term, it can mean what the producer suggests it does.
Grass Fed

If a USDA-inspected producer wants to use this term, the agency must first verify the claim. The USDA will allow the use of the term if the producer can show that the animals received a majority of their nutrients from grass throughout their life. This claim does not ensure that the animal was pastured, as it can be considered grass fed while confined but receiving grass or forage for feed.
Organic

This term means that a product has been produced according to the standards in the Organics Foods Production Act (OFPA). Generally, a producer will not be able to use this term unless they or their supplier are certified as organic by the USDA under the National Organics Program. Basically, organic production limits the use of artificial chemicals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and other inputs, as well as genetic engineering.
Born and Raised in --, Slaughtered in --

Prior to the new USDA rules addressing country of origin labeling, the producer could have listed the country of origin as the United States because the meat was processed there. Now, producers must include information about the animal's production from birth to slaughter.
Locally Grown

This claim is not regulated by the USDA. Generally, this term means the food was grown, raised, or produced close to the point of sale or within a certain region, although there is no definition for the term "local" so this claim would be subject to the producer's interpretation.
Naturally Raised

The USDA has defined this claim to mean that the livestock used for these products were raised entirely without growth promotants or hormones, antibiotics and have never been fed antibiotics.
Heritage Breed

This claim is not regulated by the USDA. Generally, heritage foods are derived from traditional breeds of animals. Typically, heritage breeds have slower growth rates and are well adapted to their environment. However, this claim does not necessarily mean the animal was raised outdoors, in pasture, or not confined.
Minimally Processed

The USDA defines this claim to mean that the product was processed such that it was not fundamentally changed during processing.
Organics?