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Reading Labels continued...

Natural: One of the most widely used labels, the term means that no additives or preservatives were introduced after the pork was processed. "Natural" has absolutely nothing to do with standards of care, type and quality of feed or administration of medications.

Percent Retained Water: To control pathogens like Salmonella, producers must quickly lower the temperature of pigs during processing. Most do this by immersing the slaughtered pigs in a cold bath, which causes them to absorb water. The USDA requires producers to list the maximum amount of water that may be retained.

Certified Humane Raised & Handled: Overseen by a nonprofit endorsed by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States, this label ensures your pig received basic standards of care. CHRH pigs must have access to straw or other material to root around in, as well as objects for manipulation, such as chains or balls.

Healthy Choices

Cuts like tenderloin, loin and sirloin from the middle section of the pig rival skinless chicken breast in percentage of fat, but have a richer flavor. Always trim visible fat from whichever cut of pork you choose.

Storage Tips for Pork

Refrigerate or freeze pork as soon as possible after purchase. If refrigerating pork, be sure to cook it or freeze it by the "Use By" date on the package, or freeze it. If freezing pork for longer than two weeks, wrap in heavy-duty foil, freezer paper or freezer bags to prevent freezer burn. Frozen pork should be defrosted in the refrigerator—never at room temperature—to prevent bacterial growth.

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