Before we can enjoy the nutritional benefits of our food, we must first know that it is safe. We must start with its genetic origin and be assured that it is a naturally occurring, traditional food source rather than a genetically modified organism (GMO). We must know its growth history and whether it was nourished by a natural species-specific diet or force-fed unnatural, man-made substances. We should be aware of the animal's health history, whether it was hearty and survived due to strong genetic constitution or was sickly and was maintained only through the persistent supplementation of antibiotics and other medicines. We should inquire as to the health risks to which the animal has been exposed, based upon where it was raised, with what animals it lived, and what it was fed. We should understand how it was processed and how it is packaged for ultimate delivery to the end consumer. Across all these dimensions, transparency and full disclosure to a well informed consumer is the ultimate way to ensure food safety. Consumers can no longer rely solely upon government regulatory agencies entrusted to codify safe practices and enforce adherence since these same regulatory agencies are often captured by the industries they were designed to regulate. Further, these regulatory agencies are diverted from their primary focus of food safety by the political agendas of the legislative and executive branches of government, which often compete with or even conflict with this primary purpose. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the end consumer to educate themselves regarding all aspects of food safety. Key to this effort is food labeling that is honest, informative, transparent, and clear. In the case of beef labeling, discerning consumers, who want to take control over the quality of the beef they eat, rely upon the certification and labeling controls of Animal Welfare Approved for this assurance.
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