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Beef “Products of the USA”: Are you getting what you paid for?

May 31, 2018

It really is true - you absolutely get what you pay for. But it’s about more than just the quality. It’s also about peace of mind. I’ll take that over a lower price any day.

I especially think this rings true when it comes to food. I consistently find myself organic produce to make sure my family doesn’t eat pesticides. I’ll also pay extra for domestically sourced products just because I like to know where my food comes from—especially if it comes from smaller farms that share the same ethics as me. Honestly, what’s a dollar or two if it allows my family to fully enjoy their meal?

As I continue to learn more about where my food comes from, I find myself striving to buy US sourced beef. I just trust the FDA and Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to have more control than governing bodies from other countries. With the lack of global standards across countries, the US is still the gold standard for oversight and safeguards when it comes to ensuring food safety and quality. To me it’s simple--the extra control, transparency, and traceability of US sourced products gives me confidence that my family is eating better food. In other words, I can be more assured its free from steroids, hormones, and other harmful chemicals.

Because of the FSIS’ rigid rules, I was completely shocked to find out the true meaning of the “Product of the USA” label. It was originally my go-to marker for quality beef, and I always thought it meant USA born-and-raised. Naturally “Product of the USA” makes me think homegrown. In actuality, it only means the beef is at a least “prepared in the United States.” This technical loophole allows cows born-and-raised outside of the FDA’s watchful eye to be imported, slaughtered stateside, and considered a “product of the USA”. This left me a bit uneasy. 

If I didn’t know this, what else don’t I know? My rationale for paying a premium was completely thrown off and so was the confidence in my purchases.

To ensure a truly US born-and-raised status I now look to the brands instead of the labels. Why wouldn’t a brand with the best product available put its quality at the forefront of everything it does? Brands, much more than government agencies, stake their entire reputations on meeting and exceeding quality standards. They are the ones who put in the time and effort to vet farms and verify quality before forming a partnership. It became obvious I had to find a brand I could trust to give it to me straight. They’re the ones who care about doing right by the people I love. Now that’s quality and peace of mind I’ll pay for every time.

 

- Patrick F (Part-time Line-Cook, Backyard Chef, and Full Time Food Lover From DC)

 

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