A note from former Meat & Seafood Director Troy Schmeling, July 2021:
Food marketing and labeling, especially when it comes to meat, can be confusing and misleading. Marketing whizzes have been able to dance around the truth for years. I want to offer you some honest facts about the meat we sell:
- We sell Certified Humane beef and lamb. All of Kowalski’s USDA Choice and USDA Prime beef and Grass-Fed lamb is Certified Humane by Humane Farm Animal Care, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving animal welfare standards in the food production industry. This certification is only given to livestock handlers, processors and retailers who undergo rigorous audits and meet Humane Farm Animal Care’s standards for humane handling. In fact, we were the FIRST and are still the ONLY multistore retailer in the country to operate a Certified Humane retail beef program.
- All our fresh meat is 100% vegetarian fed and “Naturally Raised” – that means no added growth hormones or antibiotics are EVER administered to our animals. Some retailers loosely use the terms “all natural” or “natural” to describe their products. Those terms aren’t completely unregulated by the USDA, but their definitions are quite vague. A “natural” product is generally considered to be one that contains no artificial ingredients or added colors and undergoes only minimal processing, such that it doesn’t fundamentally alter the product. This definition says NOTHING of hormones or antibiotics. In fact, under this definition, cattle and hogs may be treated with antibiotics for a period of time, subjected to a withdrawal period before they are sold, and still could be labeled “natural.” We don’t think that’s acceptable.
- Livestock genetics matters to us. We are very selective about the beef we purchase. In fact, only 0.01% of the beef available to us meets our strict criteria. When it comes to our USDA Choice and Prime beef, we only purchase Black Angus cattle from Creekstone Farms in Arkansas City, Kansas. We’ve partnered with Creekstone for close to 18 years because their beef has the most consistent marbling and flavor of any U.S. beef we’ve seen in the industry. Our Kobe-style Akaushi beef, one step above USDA Prime, is purchased from HeartBrand Beef. It is so tender and so consistently marbled that it could only come from pure Akaushi genes. Our Naturally Raised pork comes from a specialty breed called Duroc, known to have the best marbled and most tender pork in the industry.
- We visit every single one of our protein-producing partners on-site to ensure that farms, feed lots, processing plants and ranches are all up to our food safety, humane handling and cleanliness standards.
- We look at quality before price. This enables us to be unbiased in what we choose to offer to our customers. If a steak, roast or chop isn’t something we’d be proud to serve our friends and family, we won’t put it out for our customers either.
Look for more truths from us in the weeks to come. In the meantime, if you have a topic you’d like me to dive into, you can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.