Free Range, Free Roaming97

What it is: The USDA has not provided a precise definition of these terms. 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.

Required: No.

Cage Free98

What it is: 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.

Required: No.

Vegetarian Fed

What it means: 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.

Required: No.

Antibiotic Free, No Antibiotics Added

What it means: 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.99

Required: No.

Hormone Free, No Hormones Added

What it is: The USDA does not permit the use of hormones in the raising of poultry. Consequently, this claim cannot be used on a poultry label unless it is accompanied by language stating that “federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones” in poultry.100

Required: No.

All Natural

What it means: 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.”101

Required: No.

Born, Raised, and Slaughtered in the USA

What it means: This language means the sole country of origin for this product was the United States as the animal was born, raised, and slaughtered in the United States.102 New rules from the USDA require that retailers include information about each step in the production of an animal from birth to slaughter, as well as the country of origin where each of those steps occurred, so that consumers can make more informed decisions about their purchases.

Required: Yes.

Safe Handling Instructions

What these are: These instructions must be included for any meat that has not undergone processing making them ready to eat.103 This information is included to help prevent the spread of harmful foodborne illnesses.

Required: Yes.