Is Grass-fed beef really grass-fed?

We have recently seen the ‘truth in labelling’ regarding ‘free-range’ eggs, and although the government has reached some standard which covers the tag there is still a way to go before consumers are really served with what they want.
My thoughts are now going to another newish trend which is ‘grass-fed’ beef. I have seen some quite high profile names becoming involved in beef production, and are photographed next to cattle in lush pastures, but are these animals truly pasture fed? I understand that many spend most of their lives free-range, but are then ‘finished-off’ in feeding lots where they are fattened up on grain ,most probably GM soy/ corn/canola. What can be done here?
In the UK they have a new marketing label called ‘Pasture for Life’ which is a 100% pasture-fed guarantee. Could we have truth in labelling re: grain-fattened beef and something for 100% pasture-fed here?


Yes, you are correct. A lot of cattle are “finished” in feedlots. What finishing (is designed to do) is create a significantly more marbled piece of meat. Therefore contributing to the flavour profile.

Here is a link I think you will find useful:
I also copied and pasted this:


Cattle Council of Australia, with support from Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), has developed a VOLUNTARY assurance program that enables the industry to prove claims made about pasturefed or grassfed production methods.

This program is called the Pasturefed Cattle Assurance System (PCAS).

Underpinning PCAS are the PCAS Standards which govern the on-farm feed requirements and traceability of the cattle as well as pre-slaughter handling practices which influence eating quality.

The PCAS Standards also include two optional modules to support claims relating to freedom from antibiotics and hormone growth promotants (HGPs).

The program was developed in consultation with industry stakeholders, retailers and processors and the PCAS Standards were piloted with producers.

How to become PCAS Certified

To become Certified Pasturefed and be eligible to use this descriptor and the suite of certification marks, you must:

1.Register your property and pay the annual administration fee

2.Get ready for the on-site audit; make sure you have the appropriate records available

3.Have the on-site audit conducted and action any areas the auditor identifies as requiring action. An online self-audit is available which, based your answers to a series of questions related to the PCAS Standards, will give you an indication of your ability to meet the PCAS Standards during an on-site audit.

The self audit questions can be found here

Once you have completed the self-audit, you will be provided with on-screen feedback - you may need to make changes to your management system or on-farm practices in order to show compliance with the PCAS Standards.

********Once you are registered you will be required to arrange an on-site audit with one of the approved PCAS Certification Bodies.

*********Until you have completed the on-site audit and been awarded Certification, you cannot use the Certification Pasturefed logos and marks.

Thanks! DOGDOC


However, I am not sure if you’re actually saying because they’re codes and standards that their enforcements are weak. You would be right in that conclusion.

Sorry! One more thing!! - Link for the codes and standards.






Interesting topic, @jan60gro. Thanks for sharing.

Hi dogdoc, thanks for this information. So there is a standard which covers wholly pasture-fed cattle already. I wonder why it isn’t apparent on the end product? I often see ‘pasture-fed’ but as earlier explained I have doubted its honesty. OK, just had a look at the website and here are the logos but none of them look familiar. Just wondering how widespread this is available, as I’m way over here in WA.
Meanwhile what about the other beef providers who still make the ‘grass-fed’ claim but have no certification? Are we going to be heading down the same road as the ‘free-range’ chicken saga?

IN answer to your first question - this is a relatively new program. Started up only about 6 months ago.

And yes as far as buying products using the term “grass fed” without the official logo, (as per organic certification and MLA certification) - ANY qualitative certification (with a stringent process and code/regulation behind it of course) - I never consider it. Yes, the free range saga is a perfeggt example!!

What nonsense, GM has been proved to be perfectly safe and indeed is only an accerelration of normal breeding processes, it is probably a thousand years since grass fed beef has been available , salt blocks etc have always been used.

1 Like

The conversation here is about truth in labelling for grass-fed beef. My comments about alternative feeds did include GM grain, but that is just a facet of the problem. However, your assertion that GM crops have been proved to be safe is not correct, nor the suggestion that they are an acceleration of normal breeding. They are far from that, which is why there are so many regulations controlling them.

1 Like

Haha, very clever! I wonder how well it is being promoted…I’ll look out at my local Woolies for their Macro brand to see if they are here yet. Cheers.

I would like to know

Is it really going to make any measurable difference to anyone’s health? Eating too much beef is not so good for you anyway, regardless of what it’s fed on.

True, we should not be eating lots of meat…but how the little you do eat is produced could affect your health so it is good to know.


Yes it does matter. Grass-fed beef do not get anywhere as sick as corn-fed finishing. Cattle DO NOT naturally eat anything but grass. Feeding corn to them - regardless of whether they are in a feed-lot or not, although feed-lot problems are undoubtedly a lot worse - irritates their digestive system, causes inflamation and infection and, consequently, the feed will have lots of heavy-duty antibiotics in it. Cattle eat grass not grains. Avoid beef unless it is guaranteed grass-fed!

1 Like

Totally agree uigfsa…what the animals eat and how they are kept will affect the quality of the final product…after all we are what we eat, so it makes sense that it should also apply to farm animals.

1 Like