“Free From” Antibiotics & Hormones

meat package
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“Free From” Antibiotics and Hormones

Healthier consumer choice or bogus marketing claims?


As a conscientious meat consumer, I’m constantly searching for products that meet my “healthy” checklist:

  • hormone-free
  • antibiotic-free
  • grain-fed
  • no animal by-products
  • cruelty-free
  • … etc etc.

To my fellow truth seekers, I have a simple message: BUYER BEWARE.  It turns out there’s a blend of reality and marketing in these claims. Some important points to consider next time you’re in the meat aisle:

  • all poultry in Canada is “hormone-free” (meaning no added hormones)
  • all chickens raised for meat in Canada are considered “free run”, meaning able to move around freely within the barn
  • all chicken in Canada is given a feed that consists of at over 88% grain, so the “grain-fed” term is typically just used for marketing
  • when hens are given antibiotics, the eggs they lay are thrown away
  • all pork in Canada is “hormone-free” (meaning no added hormones)
  • nearly all cattle raised for meat in Canada is grown with added hormones; however, organic beef supposedly has slightly less added hormone
  • if a cow is treated with antibiotics because of an infection, the milk they produce while being treated is not sold

In Summary

So, what's a foodie to do?
  • for poultry, look for vegetarian grain-fed and antibiotic-free
  • for eggs, look for organic, free-range and/or free-run
  • purchase organic beef when possible


Image: Patrick Lowery via Flickr

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I'm a Canadian mother of two with a passion for food and cooking. I'm increasingly discovering that delicious food can also be healthy! So, I am sharing my favourite recipes with like-minded home cooks. Along the way, I'll also be writing about food-related topics such as gadgets, books and television. Let the culinary adventures begin!

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