The Truth: Meat, Fish & Poultry Labels

July 21, 2014 by Melanie Faris

There are so many products in the grocery store it is overwhelming. How do you decide what you buy? Maybe you reach for the familiar foods you had in your home growing up. Lucky charms anyone? Or maybe your health has recently declined and now you are starting to read the labels. Can someone please tell me why boiled skin, bones, and connective tissue of animals is in my favourite childhood cereal? Ew.

So, what do those claims on the label really mean? And who really has the time to look into each and every one? How am I supposed to know what is the best and who is telling the truth? To be honest, I’m tired to reaching for a product just because of the label. I want to know what I am buying and what these claims on the label really mean. I want to be an educated consumer in Canada. Don’t you?

So how does one become an educated, healthful consumer in Canada? By taking little steps in the right direction each day, and learning as you go! I want to help you on your journey and make this practical. Together we will learn and discover how we can make better decisions to benefit our health. I will never tell you what to do – I simply want to provide you with information and let you decide what to do with it.

Today we venture to the meat, fish and poultry section of the grocery store…

What is the difference between each package in front of you? Next time you are at the grocery store buying meat, poultry or fish, take a moment to look at the labels before you make a purchase.

What does “all natural” really mean?

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Is it really better to buy grain-fed, antibiotic free?

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I don’t blame you if it’s easier to ignore the label. We all buy our food for different reasons, but maybe it’s time we became aware of what these food labels really mean…

The CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) are the people who enforce policies and standards, set by Health Canada, governing the safety and nutritional quality of all food sold in Canada. They make sure we aren’t lied to as consumers so that we can make educated decisions when purchasing the food that ends up on our plates.

To avoid the confusion behind those labels, I dug into some information and summarized my findings for you. Below is a simple chart I put together with information from the CFIA. After doing some research, I realized that food labeling is not always a “marketing scam” (as I initially thought). Sure, it is hard to know 100% what you are buying, but labels can often be a very helpful thing, as long as you know what the label really means. Let’s find out…

(Please note that these guidelines do not include organic claims, which fall under the Organic Products Regulations of the Canada Agricultural Products Act.)

CFIA Meat, Fish and Poultry Label Claims

Click here for the link to the printable version

 

Print off this chart and take it with you next time you go grocery shopping. This is an easy step to becoming an educated consumer in Canada.

 

Buy organic first if possible!

 

I don’t believe organic is perfect, but it is usually better. Why? They have strict regulations that they must follow in order to be certified organic. For example, feed must be organic and GMO free (remember, all those non-organic grain fed animals are most likely loaded with GMO corn & soy). Organic promises no added hormones or antibiotics to promote growth. Synthetic preservatives or added colouring are prohibited and the animal must have access to pasture. There are many more regulations they must follow, which makes “label reading” much easier when buying organic. All you need to do is look for ONE label instead of being confused by a bunch of labels:

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Look for this label to avoid GMOs in non-organic food. This label is found on organic food too, even though “certified organic” already means non-gmo:

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If organic is not an option, follow the chart I have provided to help you with purchasing your meat, fish and poultry. Remember, your health is your own responsibility, don’t just leave it to chance or labels. Educate yourself!

In Love,

Melanie Faris


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