A Guide To Protein Cuts & Terms

Protein Cuts





Labeling Terms

Free Range

The USDA approves free range label claims on a case-by-case basis. USDA generally permits the term to be used if chickens have access to the outdoors for at least some of the day, whether the chickens choose to go outside or not.

There’s no precise federal government definition of free range.

Chicken labeled as organic must also be free-range, but not all free-range chicken is organic.

Farm Raised

All chickens are raised on farms, thus every chicken could be labeled farm-raised.



The USDA has specific regulations to define organic production and prohibits the use of the term organic on packaging of any food product not produced in accordance with its rule.

You can read the full list of regulations and steps for organic certification here.


Under USDA regulations, a natural product has:

  • no artificial ingredients
  • no coloring ingredients
  • no chemical preservatives
  • is minimally processed

It’s important to note that natural does not necessarily mean hormone-free or antibiotic-free.

No Hormones Added

Hormones are not allowed in raising hogs or poultry.

The claim no hormones added cannot be used on the labels of pork or poultry unless it is followed by a statement that says “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.”


Raised Without Antibiotics or Antibiotic Free

The terms “no antibiotics added” may be used on labels for meat or poultry products if sufficient documentation is provided by the producer to the Agency demonstrating that the animals were raised without antibiotics.

Animal health products not classified as antibiotics (such as some coccidiostats, which control protozoal parasites) may still be used.

Antibiotic free is not allowed to be used on a label but may be found in marketing materials not regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Mechanically Separated Poultry

This infamous product is a paste-like and batter-like poultry product produced by forcing bones with attached edible tissue through a sieve or similar device under high pressure to separate bone from the edible tissue.

Mechanically separated poultry has been used in poultry products since 1969.
In 1995, a final rule on mechanically separated poultry said it would be used without restrictions. However, it must be labeled as “mechanically separated chicken or mechanically separated turkey”.


“Kosher” may be used only on the labels of meat and poultry products prepared under rabbinical supervision.

You can read more about Kosher Certification by clicking here.


Products prepared by federally inspected meat packing plants identified with labels bearing references to “Halal” or “Zabiah Halal” must be handled according to Islamic law and under Islamic authority.
In Arabic, the word “halal” means permissible.

Halal meat is meat that has been slaughtered according to Islamic law, as laid out in the Qu’ran.


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