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Certified Humane (beef, pork, lamb, poultry)

This label guarantees that animals have freedom to move and prohibits crates and tie-downs in stalls, as well as artificial means to induce growth, such as continuous barn lights for broiler chickens.

Eco-benefits: Certified Humane prohibits the use of antibiotics and growth hormones, two factors in groundwater pollution.

Is it regulated? Yes. Certified Humane standards are endorsed by several animal-rights organizations, including the ASPCA and the Humane Society. Producers are audited by third-party groups.

Keep in mind: This label does not mean animals are certified organic.

Natural (beef, pork, lamb, poultry)

No additives or preservatives were introduced after the meat or poultry was processed. (Certain sodium-based broths can be added to poultry and pork labeled "natural.") This term does not ensure organic feed. The term "natural" is often confused with "naturally raised," a term proposed by the USDA that would mean the animals were not given antibiotics and/or growth hormones.

Health benefits: Natural meats have no nitrites or nitrates, preservatives that have been linked in some children and women to various types of cancer.

Eco-benefits: "Natural" has no substantial environmental benefit.

Is it regulated? It is a term defined by the USDA but not regulated.

Keep in mind: "Natural" alone says nothing about how an animal was raised.

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