The True Meaning of Meat Labels


meat labelsWhat is meat? And with that comes another question: what are meat labels?

The answer to the first question may seem obvious to most people, but it can depend on your culture, your dialect of English, and the era is which it was spoken.

Originally, “meat” was any form of solid food, just as “corn” was any grain, not just maize. It’s still used that way sometimes in British English.

If you’ve ever heard the Pink Floyd song “Another Brick in the Wall,” you may recall hearing an old man shouting, “If you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?” In the U.S. we’d say, “If you don’t eat your dinner, you can’t have any dessert! How can you have any dessert if you don’t eat your dinner?”

In modern terms, however, “meat” almost always refers to the flesh of an animal, at least in the U.S. and the U.K. Exceptions are rare, so we’ll use this definition for frozen meat labels.

If they go on other edibles, we’re going to keep calling them frozen vegetable labels, or frozen fruit labels, or pizza labels, or even sausage labels, even though sausage is a form of meat—perhaps loosely defined sometimes, but meat nonetheless.

Yes, okay, meat labels can be complicated, just like all other freezer labels and refrigerator labels. But they don’t have to be, if you follow the rules. Now, due to some shenanigans on the part of meat packers in the late 1800s (read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle for the horrific details), meat labels must adhere to more rigid codes than most freezer labels.

Every type of meat product (including the famous “mechanically separated chicken”) must be included in the list of ingredients, which is why you sometimes see long, fascinating contents stories on potted meat, Vienna sausage, and hot dog packages.

Also, they often specify the national source of the meat, as well as (for seafood labels) goodies like whether it was source from a sustainable animal population. Many meat labels also note whether the products meet Halal and Kosher dietary standards.

As a long-time freezer label producer, we’ve got the knowledge and experience to ensure your meat labels include everything they’re supposed to, and we’ll make them in-house for a reasonable price and on a reasonable schedule. To learn more, send us a quote request!


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