Is Organic Meat Really Better for you?

This question has come up quite a bit around my house and probably yours at some point, is organic meat really that much better than regular? The answer is kind of. The USDA allows for certain chemicals to be used in the production of “organic” livestock. I put organic in quotes because honestly in my mind, organic should have NO chemicals. We dig into what chemicals are allowed in this article.

The National List of Allowed And Prohibited Substances

The USDA maintains a list called the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances that details what chemicals can be used in organic livestock production and in what way that are allowed to be used. Some of these chemicals are used to maintain the animal’s health which I do understand, but that still doesn’t make it organic in my mind. So what exactly is this list? In short it’s a list that is maintained by the United States Department of Agriculture that outlines the chemicals that are allowed and not allowed in organic livestock production and how those chemicals can be used.

What Chemicals Are Allowed to be Used?

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This is probably the part you really wanted to get into so let’s dive right in.  According to Section 205.603 of the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, the following are synthetic substances allowed for use in organic livestock production.

  1. Alcohols
    1. Ethanol – Disinfectant and Sanitizer only, prohibited as a feed additive.
    1. Isopropanol – Disinfectant only
  2. Aspirin – approved for health care use to reduce inflammation.
  3. Atropine (CAS #-51-55-8) – Federal Law restricts this drug to use by or on the lawful written or oral order of a licensed veterinarian, in full compliance with AMDUCA and 21 CFR part 530 of the Food and Drug Administration regulations.  Also, for use under 7 CFR part 205, the NOP requires:
    1. Use by or on the lawful written order of a licensed veterinarian; and
    1. A meat withdrawal period of at least 56 days after administering to livestock intended for slaughter; and a milk discard period of at least 12 days after administering to dairy animals.
  4. Biologics – Vaccines.
  5. Butorphanol (CAS #-42408-82-2) – Only allowed by oral or written vet order. 
    1. An opioid pain medication used to treat severe pain.  Is also used as a part of anesthesia for surgery or during early labor.
    1. A meat withdrawal period of at least 42 days after administering to livestock intended for slaughter or a milk discard period of at least 8 days after administering to dairy animals.
  6. Activated Charcoal (CAS # 7440-4409) – Must be from vegetative sources.
  7. Calcium Borogluconate (CAS # 5743-34-0) – for treatment of milk fever only.
  8. Calcium Propionate (CAS # 4075-81-4) – For treatment of milk fever only.
  9. Chlorhexidine (CAS # 55-56-1) – for medical procedures conducted under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.  Allowed for use as a teat dip when alternative germicidal agents and/or physical barriers have lost their effectiveness.
  10. Chlorine Materials – disinfecting and sanitizing facilities and equipment.  Residual chlorine levels in the water shall not exceed the maximum residual disinfectant limit under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
    1. Calcium Hypochlorite
    1. Chlorine Dioxide
    1. Hypochlorous Acid – generated from electrolyzed water.
    1. Sodium hypochlorite
  11. Electrolytes – without antibiotics
  12. Flunixin (CAS #-38677-85-9) – in accordance with approved labeling; except that for use under 7 CFR part 205, the NOP requires a withdrawal period of at least two-times that required by the FDA.
  13. Glucose
  14. Glycerin – Allowed as a livestock teat dip, must me produced through the hydrolysis of fats or oils.
  15. Hydrogen Peroxide
  16. Iodine
  17. Kaolin Pectin – for use as an absorbent, antidiarrheal, and gut protectant.
  18. Magnesium Hydroxide (CAS #-1309-42-8) – Only allowed under the oral or written order of a licensed veterinarian. 
  19. Magnesium Sulfate
  20. Mineral Oil – for treatment of intestinal compaction, prohibited for use as a dust suppressant.
  21. Nutritive Supplements – injectable supplements of trace minerals per paragraph (d)(2) of section 206.603 of the National List of Allowed And Prohibited Substances, vitamins per paragraph (d)(3), and electrolytes per paragraph (a)(11), with excipients per paragraph (f), in accordance with FDA and restricted to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian.
  22. Oxytocin – use in post parturition therapeutic applications.
  23. Parasiticides – Prohibited in slaughter stock, allowed in emergency treatment for dairy and breeder stock when organic system plan-approved preventative management does not prevent infestation.  In breeder stock, treatment cannot occur during the last third of gestation of the progency will be sold as organic and must not be used during the lactation period for breeding stock.  Allowed for fiber bearing animals when used a minimum of 36 days prior to harvesting of fleece or wool that is to be sold, labeled, or represented as organic.
    1. Fenbendazole (CAS #43210-67-9) – milk or milk products from a treated animal cannot be labled as provided for in subpart D: 2 days following treatment of cattle; 36 days following treatment of goats, sheep, and other dairy species.
    1. Moxidectin (CAS #113507 – 06-5)
  24. Perooxyacetic/Peracetic acid (CAS #-79-21-0) – for sanitizing facility and processing equipment.
  25. Phosphoric Acid – allowed as equipment cleaner, provided that no direct contact with organically managed livestock or land occurs.
  26. Poloxalene (CAS #-003-11-6) – for use under 7 CFR part 205; the NOP requires that poloxalene only be used for the emergency treatment of bloat.
  27. Propylene Glycol (CAS #57-55-6) – only for treatment of ketosis in ruminants.
  28. Sodium Chlorite, acidified – allowed for use on organic livestock as a teat dip treatment only.
  29. Tolazoline (CAS #59-98-3) – only allowed on oral or written order of a licensed veterinarian, in full compliance with the AMDUCA and 21 CFR part 530 of the FDA regulations.  Also, for use under 7 CFR part 205, the NOP requires:
    1. Use by or on the lawful written order of a licensed veterinarian;
    1. Use only to reverse the effects of sedation and analgesia caused by Xylazine; and
    1. A meat withdrawal period of at least 8 days after administering to livestock intended for slaughter; and a milk discard period of at least 4 days after administering to dairy animals.
  30. Xylazine (CAS #7361-61-7) – Federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the lawful written or oral order of a licensed veterinarian, in full compliance with the AMDUCA  and 21 CFR part 530 of the FDA regulations. Also, for use under 7 CFR part 205, the NOP requires:
    1. Use by or on the lawful written order of a licensed veterinarian; and,
    1. A meat withdrawal period of at least 8 days after administering to livestock intended for slaughter; and a milk discard period of at least 4 days after administering to dairy animals.
    1. As a topical treatment, external parasiticide or local anesthetic as applicable.
      1. Copper Sulfate
      1. Formic Acid (CAS # 64-18-6) for use as a pesticide solely within honeybee hives.
      1. Iodine
      1. Lidocaine – as a local anesthetic. Use requires a withdrawal period of 8 days after administering to livestock intended for slaughter and 6 days after administering to dairy animals.
      1. Lime, hydrated – as an external pest control, not permitted to cauterize physical alterations or deodorize animal wastes.
      1. Mineral oil – for topical use and as a lubricant
      1. Procaine – as a local anesthetic.  Use requires a withdrawal period of 8 days after administering to livestock intended for slaughter and 6 days after administering to dairy animals.
      1. Sodium Chlorite, acidified – allowed for use on organic livestock as teat dip treatment only.
      1. Sucrose octanoate esters (CAS#s – 42922-74-7; 58064-47-4) – in accordance with approved labeling
      1. Zinc sulfate – for use in hoof and foot treatments only
    1. As feed supplements – none
    1. As feed additives.
      1. DL-Methionine, DL-Methionine – hydroxyl analog, and DL-Methionine – hydroxyl analog calcium (CAS #’s  59-51-8, 583-91-5,4857-55-7, and 922-50-9) – for use in organic poultry production at the following pounds of synthetic 100 percent methionine per ton of feed in the diet.  Maximum rates as averaged per ton of feed over the life of the flock: laying chickens – 2 pounds; broiler chickens – 2.5 pounds; turkeys and all other poultry – 3 pounds.
      1. Trace minerals used for enrichment or fortification when FDA approved.
      1. Vitamins, used for enrichment or fortification when FDA approved.
    1. As synthetic inert ingredients as classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for use with nonsynthetic substances or synthetic substances listed and used as an active pesticide ingredient in accordance with any limitations on the use of such substances

What’s Next?

As you can see there are a ton of allowed substances that can be used on your “organic” meats.  I’m not a doctor so I could say whether or not any of these are hard on your body, however, I do know that there are some things people we never meant to eat and I’m pretty sure a large number of them are on this list.  This is why we don’t even say our pork is organic.  We are better than organic for the simple fact we use ZERO chemicals. 

Conclusion

For many people wanting to live a healthy lifestyle, organic meats is one thing they really enjoy.  But at the end of the day is it really better for you?  In actuality it is.  Organic products can have about 50% more omega-3 fatty acids, a type of unsaturated healthy fat, than traditionally produced products.  As far as beef goes, grass fed is better and in many cases is considered organic.  However, after reading this list what are your thoughts?  If it’s me I’ll stick to our method of raising our pork.  No chemicals, no antibiotics, just pure healthy truly natural pork. 

If you’re in Arizona and would like to eat healthier you can click the shop link on the main menu and browse our products.  Unfortunately we are unable to ship food products and are only licensed for sale in Arizona.  All of our pork is ADA Certified.

If you liked this article and found it informative please share it on your favorite social media sites.  Also leave me a comment and let me know what you thought of this article.  Thank you for reading.

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