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Inaccurate information on restaurant menu regarding grass-fed beef

Greetings,

A restaurant I frequently visit is labeling on their menu a certain brand of beef as grass-fed, but I've confirmed directly from the beef producer that the beef is not grass-fed per the USDA guidelines at http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/ams.f... Prior to this confirmation, I discussed the issue with the restaurant founder and he insisted the beef is grass-fed and proceeded a few days later to show me information on the beef producer's website which stated the cows are raised most of their lives on pasture but are finished on grain. The owner claimed that there is no such thing as 100% grass-fed beef, which is untrue.

Based on the questions I asked the beef producer, the beef producer is now asking me if I have found a place that is falsely advertising their beef as grass-fed, but I am reluctant to respond because I'm unsure of the consequences.

Any suggestions on how to proceed?

Thanks much,
Nate

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  1. Here is an article that's somewhat related to the topic.
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

    1. Don't order the steak anymore and leave it alone if you do not accept the founder/owner's explanation.......otherwise, don't go back.

      i think mislabeling or misrepresenting fish or organic items is more egregious.

      6 Replies
      1. re: fourunder

        The owner's explanation doesn't fly though as I got confirmation from the beef producer that labeling the beef as grass fed violates their rules and USDA rules, so leaving it alone is not an option.

        I think mislabeling fish, organic, and grass fed are equally serious. If I'm paying for grass fed beef but I'm getting cheap feedlot beef instead, that's no different than paying for wild salmon and getting farmed salmon.

        1. re: Nate650

          tell the producer

          1. re: Nate650

            so leaving it alone is not an option.
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            I would disagree,

            1. re: fourunder

              Okay let me rephrase then. It's not an option for me, but it is an option, though not a smart one if one values transparency and honesty in the food system.

          2. re: fourunder

            i think mislabeling or misrepresenting fish or organic items is more egregious.
            ~~~~~~~~~~
            i agree with Nate. doesn't matter what it is - beef, poultry, vegetables, grains, whatever - misrepresentation of ANY ingredient is wrong.

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              Based on the account given by Nate, the beef has been grass fed.....while this does not meet the guidelines to be labeled Grass-Fed Beef, the owner of the restaurant has provided the Beef Brand. so in this case, I do not believe his intent was to deceive anyone.....I believe he is mistaken in describing his steaks.

              maybe providing the Beef Brand will help.....

          3. What kind of grass?

            1. Based on the questions I asked the beef producer, the beef producer is now asking me if I have found a place that is falsely advertising their beef as grass-fed, but I am reluctant to respond because I'm unsure of the consequences.
              ____________________________________

              What consequences?

              Tell the producer of the restaurant that is mislabeling.

              1. I've run into this numerous times. It's not excusable in my mind for a restaurant owner to knowingly misrepresent ingredients but it's very possible that the owner truly believes that this beef is the closest to grass-fed that is available. Of course that's not true as there are plenty of producers of grass-finished beef but I'm amazed at how little some restaurant owners know about the food they're selling.

                I would try to frame it as positively as possible. Perhaps come in with a clear article explaining the difference between grass-fed and grass-finished along with some specific suppliers of grass finished beef. You never know. You could end up being the customer that made him rethink his sourcing. Things like that happen. Good for you for taking this seriously.
                JeremyEG
                HomeCookLocavore.com

                2 Replies
                1. re: JeremyEG

                  Grass fed beef can also be grass finished though, and sometimes the two terms are used interchangeably which makes the situation even more complicated.

                  Also causing confusion is I'm not entirely sure on the laws. Can beef be labeled grass fed if it has been fed grass for the majority of its life? According to the link I provided in my original post, it can't be.

                  This is likely a case of the owner not knowing the details of the food he is serving, as you stated.

                  1. re: Nate650

                    Can beef be labeled grass fed if it has been fed grass for the majority of its life? According to the link I provided in my original post, it can't be.
                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
                    the link in your OP was truncated so it takes you to an error page...but i assume this is the one:
                    http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/ams.f...

                    i learned a long time ago to specify grass-fed and *finished* when asking. based on that info from the AMS, grass-fed, grain-finished beef isn't *supposed* to be marketed as grass-fed, but...

                2. You've already spent an enormous amount of time and energy rooting up the answers to your questions....you might as well finish it by giving the name of the restaurant to the producer.

                  You've already told him that one of his customers is misrepresenting his product...so he's gonna find it eventually, anyway.

                  If you didn't want to stir sh*t, you shouldn't have picked up the stick in the first place.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: sunshine842

                    I'm with sunshine842.

                    As we say in the UK, grass up the restaurant. :-)

                  2. Hi,

                    Is there a middleman involved? Maybe the farm sells the beef to a distributor and the distributor lied about the beef when selling it to the restaurant owner?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Sailing77

                      There is a middleman (the distributor), but I doubt this is the case since the owner was defending his position that there is nothing wrong with labeling the beef grass-fed. Unless he was influenced by the distributor.

                    2. Sorry about that, here's the correct link (from the OP):

                      http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/ams.f...

                      1. Giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, it sounds like the owner is just misinformed. I don't see that telling the producer the name of the restaurant will cause any real consequences... it may result in the producer talking to the restaurant owner and straightening some things out, which would be good. The distinction between grass-finished and grain-finished is a fine one and while I'd agree that anyone selling food ought to be familiar with that distinction, that doesn't mean that they will be! Props to you for being willing to follow through.