what is "natural"?

Any product may be labeled natural if it is minimally processed and free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. Minimal processing includes smoking, roasting, freezing, drying, and fermenting.

Bristol Farms defines natural meat as:

  • Free from antibiotic residue
  • Fed a balanced vegetarian diet, without the addition of animal fat or animal by-products
  • Grown in a comfortable, stress-free environment
  • Handled humanely at all times
  • Grown using environmentally sound, sustainable farming methods

what is "organic"?

Organic meats are derived from naturally raised animals that are fed a diet that consists of 100% certified organic corn and soybeans grown on soil that has been free of pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers for at least three years.

what are "antibiotics"?

An antibiotic is a substance that inhibits or kills a microorganism. Within the poultry industry, for example, there is widespread use of sub-therapeutic levels of antibiotics to increase a chicken’s growth rate and to control the spread of diseases that occur in unsanitary, crowded conditions. A bird that consumes antibiotics almost every day will gain weight on less feed. Of all the antibiotics administered in the United States, 84% are given to farm animals. The pervasive use of antibiotics in farming is contributing to “antibiotic resistance” because bacteria have adapted and developed immunity to drugs previously considered reliable remedies. Bristol Farms takes great pride in offering many meat products that are antibiotic free.

what are "hormones"?

A hormone is a natural or synthetic product that affects cell activity. Unlike cattle, poultry ranchers are prohibited by federal regulations to use hormones of any kind. Ranchers have not used hormones in chicken ranching for over 35 years.

what is "sustainable farming"?

Based on the principle that business must meet the needs of the present without compromising the future, sustainable farming is defined as:

  • Honoring stewardship of the land and the highest standards of animal husbandry
  • Monitoring and evaluating every process, minimizing the use of natural resources; practicing conservation in daily business
  • Providing employees with safe working conditions, competitive wages, health benefits and employment stability
  • Supporting the local community and the preservation of agriculture in operating area

what is "free range"?

USDA standards allow any chicken or turkey with access to the outside – even a small, outdoor concrete pad – to be labeled as free range. Bristol Farms believes that free range chickens should be raised in spacious poultry houses. When the young birds mature and are fully feathered, they are allowed access to clean, fenced areas outside where they can actually roam and forage.

grading meat

All meat and poultry are harvested and processed under inspection of the USDA. Meat packers can choose whether they want their meat graded for quality even though grading has nothing to do with the wholesomeness of beef, lamb, or veal. No matter what its quality grade, all meat sold in the United States has to meet strict sanitary requirements all the way from the processor to the butcher’s case.

Federal quality grading of meat is based on the age of the animal, the degree of intramuscular fat (marbling), and the conformation, or physique, of the animal. The age of the animal has a direct effect on the juiciness and flavor of the meat so younger animals will be more tender with more marbling. So, high quality beef, for example, will have a broad and substantial back, or loin area, which provides meat that, is both flavorful and tender.

Although there are eight grades, in reality most of the meat falls into the top three grades. To be officially graded, the meat should bear the USDA initials and grade. Only about 2 percent of today's beef is of the highest USDA grade, or prime, which, has the highest level of marbling. About 45 percent of beef is graded choice, while 21 percent are stamped with the select grade.

Meat graded choice comes from young animals with minimal to moderate marbling and good conformation. Select is leaner meat. Select steaks have little marbling and only a few flakes of white, intramuscular fat. Because select meat is so lean, it can be easily dried out when overcooked by dry-heat methods. It has less flavor and juiciness overall than the higher grades.

In addition to USDA grading, some meat and poultry are harvested and processed under religious restrictions. Kosher meat is butchered under the supervision of special Rabbis and is subject to specific Jewish laws. Halal meat is also religiously supervised by butchers who follow strict Islamic practices.

proper handling

Fresh beef, lamb, or veal can be stored for three to four days in the refrigerator; however, ground meats, pork, or poultry should be used within two days. Store wrapped meats in the coldest part of the refrigerator, at 36 degrees to 40 degrees. If you don’t intend to use the meat within a few days of purchase it should be frozen immediately to ensure quality. When well- wrapped, meat will keep frozen for three to six months\'.