With costs skyrocketing, is it worth spending extra on organic meat? Since the 1960s, Canadian meat has been fairly well protected. I’m going to tell you what is in our Canadian organic meat and leave it for you to decide.
Let’s tackle chicken first as its probably the most confusing, especially with the marketing being used. We have free run chicken and eggs, which means the chickens must be allowed to move around freely, although not necessarily outdoors. Then there is free range chicken and eggs which means the chickens must have access to the outdoors.
In Canada, laws require that all chicken must be at least free run and hormones are banned. Despite this, some companies label their chicken and eggs this way as a marketing tactic. All chickens are mostly grain fed, with their feed containing at least 85% grains.
The only thing allowed in chicken is antibiotics, but chickens must be residue free before being slaughtered.
Organic chicken requires that they are fed organic feed (no genetically modified feed) and they are given no antibiotics or supplements.
And when it comes to eggs, the colour of the egg is only reflective of the colour of the hen. There is no nutritional difference between white and brown eggs. We are just conditioned that brown is healthier than white (rice, bread, etc.).
Both synthetic hormones and antibiotics may be used but there can be no residues at the time of slaughter. Cows can be fed Genetically Modified (GM) feed.
Organic beef means its free from hormones and antibiotics and fed organic feed.
For dairy products, synthetic hormones are not allowed, and antibiotics can be used but there must be no residue.
Organic dairy requires that cows are fed organic feed.
No hormones are allowed in pork and antibiotics can be used but there must be no residue at the time of slaughter.
Organic pork requires that pigs are fed organic feed.
So, to summarize, antibiotics may be given to all these livestock, but no meat should contain any residue. Organic meat means the animals must have been fed an organic diet, and it is free of hormones and antibiotics. Only cows raised for meat can be given hormones. Depending on the source, this is either because:
- This allows more muscle mass and less fat which means less feed.
- This allows farmers to feed them less nutritional feed.
Currently Canadian meat sources cannot be GM and GMOs are not considered organic. Last year Health Canada announced changes to rules about genetically modified food production in Canada and how it will regulate the sale of gene-edited food, despite the opposition from 100 groups in Canada. There is no clear, independent process for testing, monitoring or identification. Which means there is no way to identify GM products in the grocery store. Health Canada did this with no public statement and no media release.
Even the US requires GMO labelling!
Here's Health Canada’s responses to all the concerns as well as the responses from the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.
So, it’s up to you to decide, based on what’s important to you. Do you care how chickens live? Are you concerned about hormones and antibiotics even with the no residue rule?Right now, I feel pretty confident in eating Canadian meat. Because I don’t consume a lot of it, I will continue to buy free range and organic when the price allows, but you can bet I’ll be keeping an eye out for any GMO information.