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Jan 8, 2010 08:01 AM


I have spent a long time looking for answers when it comes to Metros "Traditionally Raised" meats. Namely - is this a crock, a marketing campain, an attempt to pull the wool over my eyes? What does hormone and antibiotic free really mean? Are these animals raised the same as animals are raised in those industrialized "farms"? The only info I could find on the matter was at
and only deals with the beef. What about the pork and chicken?

Due to these unanswered questions I have been hesitant to buy "Traditionally Raised" meats.

Well I'm happy to report that after several attempts at trying to get Metro to explain to me, in detail, what I would be buying if I bought Traditionally Raised I finally have answers!

In an e-mail response to me a Metro rep writes "Kindly find information attached in regards to the chicken. As for our pork, the Meat Department advises me that while we have no documents, they can assure you that the pigs are fed grains only and are allowed outside but all they consume are these grains."

Please find below the information in the document: It is Metros official word, take from it what you will. I think that I am finally convinced that Traditionally Raised is different that industrialized. (I don't know why it was so hard to get since is states it was created in 2006, but I'm happy to have it now).

Q&A for RWA
Created November 2006
Updated March 2007

How is Traditionally Raised chicken different from conventional chicken?
Traditionally raised chickens are different from conventional chickens because they are raised without antibiotics of any kind and are fed a 100% grain based diet with no animal by-products.

Is Traditionally Raised chicken the same as “free range chicken”?
No, a Traditionally Raised chicken is not the same as a “free range chicken”. Traditionally Raised chickens are raised in a clean, safe & controlled barn environment that provides free roaming indoor access. “Free range” chickens raised in an environment that provides unrestricted access to the outdoors.

How is Traditionally Raised chicken different from organic chicken?
Only chicken labeled “certified organic” by an accredited national or regional organic organization is organic. In order to be certified organic, the chicken must be raised under strict organic growing conditions covering specific feed regulations, growing environment conditions & the treatment of illness. Traditionally Raised chicken is a premium chicken offering that provides consumers with an antibiotic free option.

What are the chickens fed / what is in the feed?
Traditionally Raised chickens are fed a proprietary blend of feed that consists of grain, soybean, canola & vitamins & minerals. The feed does not contain any ingredients of animal origin or any animal by-products.

What exactly does “antibiotic free” mean?
“Antibiotic Free” means that the chickens are never fed or injected antibiotics. Traditionally Raised Chicken is antibiotic free & the chicken’s health is monitored and managed via proprietary feed & sanitation protocols.

Are the “Traditionally Raised” chickens processed in federally inspected & approved plants?
Yes, all chickens in the Traditionally Raised program are grown in Canadian federally inspected & approved barns.

Are the chickens fed and/or injected hormones?
No. Traditionally Raised chickens are not fed or injected hormones, which is in compliance with the CFIA regulations that strictly prohibits the use of hormones when growing chickens in Canada.

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  1. It sounds to me that this still an industrial product. Since there is no mention of how the feed is grown it is safe to assume that its mono crop, petrolium fertilized and pesticized. As for the chickens living conditions I'd be surprised if they're much better off than their no name battery brethren. The only difference is the absence of antibiotics. for what that's worth.

    2 Replies
    1. re: haggisdragon

      They don't address how humane the conditions are, so that smacks of industrial to me...

      1. re: haggisdragon

        They were never claimed to be "natural" (which is meaningless) or "organic". "Free range" is not especially meaningful, since outdoor access doesn't mean the birds will actually go out.

        Free roaming indoor access may or may not be meaningful, depending on the amount of "free roaming" indoor space they have.

        So we know that they are grain fed and antibiotic free. (I believe antibiotics can be given for illness, but not for prophylaxis or as a growth stimulant.) As to hormones, no chicken sold in Canada may legally have been given hormones.

        They were processed at a Maple Leaf plant (identifiable by the Est #) the last time I looked into it. All that said, I've found the processing of these chickens to be superior to, and their eating qualities better than, any other supermarket chickens and most of the upmarket brands (e.g., Beretta; Rowe). But, yes, they are an industrial product.

      2. Metro is stretching the term 'Traditionally Raised', but it is a step in the right direction.
        The chickens are raised on a barn floor, and may have to be protected from pecking each other, as this issue is not raised. I don't have a problem with grain fed, as long as they digest the grain and grow quickly and undiseased

        Regarding Ontario traditionally raised pork, I can report that the animals are in the same small pens, no access to outdoors, and are fed a better quality of grains than the rest of the pigs in the same barn: no fillers, no animal feed, no antibiotics, and of course no hormones (not allowed in Canada). If they get sick they will be administered antibiotics, but culled from the Traditionally Raised group. This information comes from a neighbor in the Strathroy area who has to put up with the manure run off in the soil, and the stench which never goes away.
        The pig farmers like the new Traditiionally Raised program, because they get a better price for the minimal extra care they put into it.

        Metro's Traditionally Raised beef has generally been in short supply, poor selection, in my area, and no wonder: it all comes from a few farms in the Peace River valley. Not even Ontario raised!

        6 Replies
        1. re: jayt90

          I'm sorry to hear about the pork, prehaps I will reconsider my views on buying that product.

          I do know that the chicken in the stores is smaller and more yellow than other brands... that being said, more yellow is the color your chicken is supposed to be when it's not fed garbage... smaller I don't know what to think, I tend to lean towards the thought that they're a more natural size.

          I think the fact that the chicken is often in short supply (like the beef) may mean that the size of the flocks raised are indeed smaller and they have more room to run around (I hope). I wish they had nests or bedding or some sort...maybe that will come in time.

          I guess we have to put trust in someone sometime. Ffree-run and organic meats are hard to find in my area (since I don't live downtown), and the ones that are avaliable are not affordable in the least, I will have to put this trust in Metro (argh!).

          I also would like to see animals that are raised in Ontario, and raised non-industrial farms. It's a low down shame that this should even be issue.

          I would assume that Loblaws "Free From" line is the same... but I will be contacting them in regards to this issue and will keep everyone updated.

          1. re: Bitey_Barkface

            An important factor for chickens is the ability to roost. Thanks for passing the information on to us. I would be interested to know what Loblaws has to say.

            1. re: Full tummy

              Roost? On what? The crowded barn floor? I'd love to know if the chickens get to keep their beaks. The beaks of factory-farmed chickens are cut off; there goes their ability to peck and things and act like real chickens.

              As for the size of chickens being sold, the younger (and hence, smaller) the animal is when it goes to market, the smaller the financial output for the farm.

              1. re: Tatai

                On another board, someone noted that growth hormones are not necessary in battery chickens, because they grow very quickly, due to selective breeding.

                So quickly, that there is quite an incidence of sudden death from heart strain. The muscle mass grows so fast that the heart can't keep up, and the bird has no exercise. There is no reason to think organic birds fare much better than this.

                1. re: jayt90

                  People in different age groups will remember the size of a "normal" market chicken very differently. I'm early 40s and almost all the chicken I see today (even the small ones) would have qualified as "big" when I was young.

                  I've seen some chicken pieces at local Loblaws and No Frills that qualify as "mutated" - so big they make my jaw drop, e.g. thighs bigger than a man's fist.

                  If the smaller size of the Metro "Traditionally Raised" chicken is indicative of the chickens not being "mutated" into unnatural gigantism I'm all for it.

                2. re: Tatai

                  Do you think I'm not aware of the issue with respect to beaks? Nonetheless, the entire beak is not generally cut off, and the when and the how of it have a lot to do with long-lasting ill effects on the chickens. Beaks, roosts, nests. Chickens should have all of them. Roosting and nesting are part of the natural behavioural repertoire of chickens; even fully beaked chickens can't "act like real chickens" without them.

          2. It sounds to me that the use or non-use of antibiotics is the only difference between a "Traditionally Raised" chicken and your standard chicken. The Chicken Farmers of Canada's website answers all these questions in the same way, but is silent on the issue of antibiotics:

            1. One of the answers did not seem to match the question. Are the “Traditionally Raised” chickens processed in federally inspected & approved plants?

              Yes, all chickens in the Traditionally Raised program are grown in Canadian federally inspected & approved barns.

              The question referred to the processing, and the answer referred to the growing conditions.

              Anyway, thank you for going to the time and trouble it took to get these answers.