Open Nature - FAQ - Meat

What does "natural" mean in regards to meat & poultry?
The USDA defines natural as "minimally processed with no artificial ingredients or added color." Many brands of natural chicken, pork, and beef found in stores across the country meet the broadly defined USDA guidelines for using the word "natural" on their label.

Open Nature adheres to a stricter set of standards. The animals raised for our beef program are never given added hormones and they are fed a 100% vegetarian diet. Pork and poultry in our Open Nature program are also fed a 100% vegetarian diet, however, current federal regulations prohibit the use of added hormones in these species. Any animal designated for the program that becomes sick and requires antibiotics is not allowed in Open Nature™. Producers are required to maintain records and documents to support these claims.
Are products labeled "natural" the same as "organic?"
No. The term "natural" suggests that products have been minimally processed or are free from synthetic ingredients. Natural and organic are not interchangeable. Only products labeled "organic" have been certified as meeting USDA organic standards. Other claims, such as free-range, hormone-free, and natural can still appear on product labels. However, such claims should not be confused with the term "organic."
What does "Raised without Antibiotics" mean?
"Raised without Antibiotics" means that our animals are NEVER administered antibiotics at any time during their life.

The USDA has strict requirements for residue testing and animals that have been treated can still be considered "antibiotic free" if they are "residue free" and called "All Natural." Livestock that qualify for Open Nature™ are never given antibiotics -- ever.
Why does Open Nature prohibit the use of antibiotics?
We constantly review consumer trends and requests, and we strive to offer our customers a variety of quality products at reasonable prices. Consumer requests for natural beef raised without added hormones and antibiotics led us to the development of our Open Nature™ beef. Because this claim is different than the “natural” definition by the USDA, we must specifically state the attributes of our program which prohibits the use of antibiotics.
Are vaccines the same as antibiotics?
No, not at all. Vaccines help animals naturally protect themselves from disease before the disease is present. For example, in humans, a flu vaccine is given before you get the flu, not after. The vaccine helps the body strengthen its natural defense against illness. Once you have an illness, vaccines have little to no response.

By contrast, antibiotics are typically used to kill diseases or infections through a chemical process when a natural immune response is not effective. Animals that are given antibiotics of any kind are excluded from Open Nature™.
What does "No Added Hormones" mean?
We never feed, inject or otherwise administer hormones to any of our livestock. Current federal regulations prohibit the use of added hormones in pork and poultry. We cannot claim, however, that our meats contain "no hormones," since all animals contain naturally occurring hormones. That is what makes animals grow.

What is Open Nature Beef?
Our beef comes from animals that are certified black angus, free-range, 100% grass-fed, with no added hormones and never any antibiotics.
What are the benefits of barn-raised hogs?
The key benefits are animal health and meat quality. Because they are raised in a barn, the animals are not exposed to the extreme temperatures of the Midwest. It also allows our farmers to monitor their diet. Our hogs eat a controlled, 100% vegetarian diet and drink clean water that hasn't been exposed to pesticides and herbicides. A healthy animal is a happy animal, and provides the best product quality for you and your family.
What types of feed are chickens fed and what is a vegetable diet?
We strongly believe that the flavor of the chickens comes from the feed that they eat. Our feed is made from high quality, nutritionally balanced ingredients. It is composed of approximately 70% corn and corn gluten meal and 15-18% soybean meal, with the balance of the diet made up of salt, vitamins, and minerals. The diet is called a vegetable diet because the protein and energy sources, corn and soybean meal, are all vegetable in origin. NO animal by-products or animal fats are used in the chicken feed.
How are your animals raised?
Our partners raise the animals used for our products in a variety of locations throughout the United States, with most of our naturally produced poultry production in California, Oregon, Washington, and Pennsylvania. Birds are raised on a soft bed of rice hulls and are given approximately one square foot per bird in which to roam freely in the poultry house, and the outdoor pen space is 50% to 100% the size of the inside house. This is significantly more space than is used for growing conventional chickens.

Additionally, our parent company has an established Animal Welfare Advisory Committee composed of academic and industry leaders in Animal Welfare and Animal Welfare Auditing programs which rely on certified third-party auditing services and our own corporate animal welfare audits conducted by a PAACO-certified animal welfare auditor. All of our partners under Open Nature must follow strict adherence to the Humane Slaughter Act of 1978, USDA FSIS.
Are your products gluten free? Can I find this claim on your packaging?
All fresh meats are gluten free naturally. Our hot dogs and bacon are gluten free as we do not add fillers. Most flavors of our gourmet chicken sausages are certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization.

While most of our products do not contain gluten, we are only making a gluten-free claim on our packaging if it comes from a facility that is "certified gluten free". Currently, five of our six chicken sausages have "gluten free" certification on their packaging.
Are your products dairy/casein free?
All fresh meats are dairy/casein-free. Hot dogs and bacon are also dairy/casein-free. Some flavors of sausage are dairy/casein-free, while others contain gourmet cheese.
What does uncured mean?
This means that there are no added nitrites or nitrates in the product. Instead, we use celery juice or powder, a source of naturally occurring nitrates.
The Open Nature Bacon and Hot Dogs contain Lactic Acid Starter Culture—why is it used and does it contain dairy?
In food items like our delicious hot dogs and bacon, the addition of lactic acid culture starter is necessary because acidification lowers the PH balance which inhibits the growth of spoilage agents.

The lactic acid culture starter (the sugar in the acid) is corn-derived, NOT milk-derived.
What is the skin on your hot dogs made of?
Our hot dogs are "skinless." The hot dog is cooked in a cellulose (plant material) casing, which is removed afterwards. The term "skinless frankfurter" simply describes a product that has been stripped of its casing once a secondary skin made of coagulated sausage proteins has formed on the product's surface. The secondary skin is formed by a number of methods, including traditional smoke curing and low temp drying.
How long after I open my bacon/hot dogs/sausage can I leave it in the fridge?
Either use or freeze the uneaten portion within 3-4 days after opening.

Grass Fed Angus Beef

Is your beef 100% grass fed?
Yes they are. They feed on high protein grasses which include clover alfalfa and rye.
Are the cattle Free range?
Cattle graze on the native herbage of clover and rye which grows naturally. Due to the natural balance of this ecosystem, no chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides are administered.
Are your Open Nature Grass Fed Angus cattle Antibiotic and Hormone free?
Yes, they are never administered antibiotics or hormones.
What if an animal gets sick?
If an animal gets sick, he is removed from the Open Nature herd, given antibiotics to nurse him back to good health, and the cattle is sold into another program where antibiotics are accepted.
Are your Open Nature Grass Fed Angus cattle cloned or irradiated?
No. Never.
Are your Open Nature Grass Fed Angus cattle Halal?
Yes, they are certified 100% Halal.
Does your beef have a strong taste?
No, it has a mild, sweet flavor and is very tender.
Are your farms sustainable?
Yes, they are. Our beef comes from animals that are free-range and 100% grass-fed. We believe that our meat has a much lower environmental impact relative to conventional feed-lot produced meat. Furthermore, our animals enjoy a much better life than do conventionally raised animals.