CHOICE calls for more transparent beef labelling

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 12th February 2013

Australian consumer group CHOICE has called for clearer labelling on beef products sold in supermarkets and at restaurants, following new research that 91 per cent of consumers “do not have enough information” about the “ethical production of food products” in Australia.

CHOICE has called for consumers to be better informed about the terms “grass-fed”, “grain-fed,” biodynamic beef,” “free-range beef” and “hormone-free beef” when choosing a steak.

CHOICE Food Policy Advisor Angela McDougall said that consumers pay “premium” for steak but may not understand the different production methods.

“When people order a grain-fed steak, they may not realise that this means cattle are in a feedlot for 60 or 70 days on a protein-rich diet with the primary objective of fast weight gain,” Ms McDougall said.

“Understanding the meaning of different steak descriptions can help shoppers decide what’s important to them – for some it’s the ethical concerns like animal welfare and sustainability, while for others it might come down to value for money or taste,” Ms McDougall added.

According to estimates from the Meat and Livestock Association and referenced by CHOICE, Australian consumers spent around $6.7 billion on beef between 2010 – 2011.

In CHOICE’s beef labelling guide, CHOICE provides its own descriptions of “grass fed beef”, “pasture-raised beef”, “grain-fed beef”, “feedlot beef”, “organic beef”, “biodynamic beef”, “free-range beef”, and “hormone-free beef”. These are not necessarily the same as may apply under current laws.

CHOICE'S beef labelling guide aims to clarify the different beef labelling terms in Australia.