Product Label Claims

USDA Grade

The most common product-related marketing claim found on meat labels is the USDA grade. For beef, USDA grade plays a large role in eating satisfaction. Prime, Choice, and Select are termed “quality grades” and are used to segregate beef into categories of expected eating satisfaction. Grading standards are used for other meat products as well. However, unlike beef, these grades are not commonly seen at retail. All poultry sold at retail is grade “A,” the highest grade for chicken and turkey. All lower-grade poultry is used for further-processed products that are cut up, ground, or chopped.

No Additives

Food additives are commonly added to foods to improve taste, texture, shelf life, nutritional value, or appearance of a product. Common additives include salt, sugar, and corn syrup. All additives must be included on the ingredient statement of food products, including meat. Because of this, the claim “No additives” may be used on meat labels, but has not been defined by the USDA or FDA.

Fresh, Never Frozen

Many meat products, both in retail and food service (restaurants, cafeterias, etc.), are marketed as “Fresh, Never Frozen.” Products labeled with this claim have never been frozen from the time the animal was harvested.

Tenderness Claims

Tenderness is the most important trait affecting overall beef eating satisfaction. To help consumers identify beef products that will meet their tenderness expectations, the USDA has approved the claims “Certified Tender” and “Certified Very Tender.” Products labeled with these claims are tested and certified by USDA to meet national tenderness standards.


The term "certified" implies that the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Agriculture Marketing Service have officially evaluated a meat product for class, grade, or other quality characteristics (e.g., "Certified Angus Beef"). When used under other circumstances, the term must be closely associated with the name of the organization responsible for the "certification" process, e.g., "XYZ Company's Certified Beef."


Meat products labeled as Kosher are from animals that were harvested under rabbinical supervision and meet all requirements according to Jewish law.


Products labeled as Halal were harvested and processed according to Islamic law and under Islamic authority.


Video Podcasts and Webinars

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  • Meat in the Diet


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