Grass Fed isn’t always grass finished, but grass finished is always grass fed?!
Now there is a sentence that will confuse you!
In Australia, grass-fed beef has risen in popularity as consumers become ever more discerning about where their meat comes from, how it is produced, and how it may impact their health.
According to a study conducted by Ernst & Young (2021), 50% of consumers indicated that the environment and sustainability is the top priority when making purchasing decisions, with 25% of consumers stating that they will be prioritising health above all else. Furthermore, the study revealed that over 50% of consumers globally prefer to purchase grass-fed beef, with 64% stating they would happily pay more for it.
Unfortunately, despite these positive trends in consumer behaviour, Australian labelling laws allow for a confusing and misleading representation for what ‘grass-fed’ truly means.
In Australia, there is no accredited grass-fed certification, meaning that growers are legally allowed to finish cattle on grain for up to 89 days whilst maintaining their ‘grass-fed’ title. During this ‘finishing’ stage, cattle are fed a high caloric grain and are held in a feedlot to restrict movement, greatly reducing caloric expenditure and increasing caloric intake, resulting in rapid weight gain. These grains are often a combination of wheat, barley and sorghum, supplemented with additives such as antibiotics to prevent and treat infections that may rapidly spread throughout cattle in a feedlot. Hormone growth promotants (HPG’s) such as oestrogen or synthetic alternatives are also commonly used to accelerate weight gain. According to Food Standards Australia, approximately 40% of all Australian cattle are supplemented with hormone growth promotants (HPG’s) and account for a $210 million increase in value to the beef industry.
GRASS FED, GRASS FINISHED BEEF
Biologically, cattle are designed to eat grass due to having 5 stomachs that are responsible for fully digesting and affectively absorbing nutrients from their natural food. Put simply, ‘grass fed and grass finished’ beef is a term given to cattle that has eaten nothing but grass for the entirety of their lives. This means that the cattle have never stepped foot into a feedlot, nor have they ingested any grains. Despite grass finished being an obvious choice when considering sustainability and animal welfare, there is also a plethora of significant health benefits that come with it.
- Lower total fat content
- More heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids
- More omega-6 fatty acid (linolenic acid)
- More antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin E
- High levels of beta-carotene, selenium and conjugated linolic acid which have anti-cancer properties.
But without any certifying body monitoring the compliance of farms stating that they are ‘grass fed and finished’, how can you know what you are truly consuming?
The organic beef sold at The Naked Butcher is sourced from Bindoon Organic Beef farm and is certified by the Australian Certified Organic Standard (ACOS). What this means is that the farm is governed by strict organic certification guidelines that must be adhered to, with random audits conducted throughout the year to ensure compliancy. Due to certified organic grain not being available in Western Australia, WA organic beef is guaranteed to be 100% grass fed and grass finished.
The full Australian Certified Organic Standard 2021 handbook can be downloaded at https://austorganic.com/certification-and-standards/standards/acos/
Grass Fed & Finished
With the lack of a grass-fed certifying body in Australia, we have opted to source our grass fed and finished beef from suppliers in the southwest that are currently in ‘transition’. What this means is that these farms are transitioning from conventional farming, to becoming fully certified under one of the three organic certifying bodies in Australia. In order to obtain this certification, these farms must adhere to the strict guidelines outlined above and are subject to random audits up to 4 times a year. If they are in breach of any guidelines, their application for certification is immediately rejected.
To learn more about our suppliers, check out this video