Have you ever wondered what exactly the terms on your poultry packages mean? Sometimes terms used on poultry labels can be confusing. Here are the most common poultry labels as allowed by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS):
Fresh chicken does not contain additives. If chicken is processed, then additives, such as MSG, salt, or sodium erythorbate, may be added, but must be listed on the label.
Basted, Self-Basted, or Enhanced
Poultry that has been injected or marinated with butter, broth, stock, flavor enhancers, or the like must be labeled as “Basted”,”Self-Basted”, or “Enhanced”.
Free Range or Free Roaming
The USDA requires a claim of “Free Range” or “Free Roaming” if the chickens have unlimited access to food, water, and outdoors (not caged).
The use of the word “Fresh” on packages of raw poultry refers to the temperatures at which the meat has been stored and that it has not been stored frozen.
Poultry can only be labeled “Natural” if it is minimally processed and does not contain any artificial ingredients or color, which doesn’t alter the raw product.
“No Antibiotics Added” may be used on labels for poultry if documentation is provided showing that the animals were raised without the use of antibiotics.