Seal: American Grassfed

Main benefits: Cattle graze on pasture, eating only grass their entire life. • Animals are not treated with antibiotics or growth hormones. • Farms are inspected every 15 months to ensure compliance with standards.
Limitations: None
Overview: The American Grassfed seal is overseen by the nonprofit American Grassfed Association. Cattle are fed only grass (no grain), and are raised on pastures that are managed to ensure that they can obtain optimal nutrition from grass only. Farms are inspected every 15 months, which means visits take place in different seasons. In addition, the animals aren’t given antibiotics or growth-promoting drugs, such as hormones. Farmers can only use synthetic pesticides on the pasture as a last resort and can’t feed the animals crops with genetically modified (or engineered) organisms or grow GMO crops on their farms. The standards also include some protections for animal welfare, such as providing the animals with shade and shelter.
Ratings Criteria
What Farm Animals Eat and the Quality of Their Diets

Cows are fed only grass or forage (hay) throughout their lives, which is what their systems are naturally equipped to digest. All cattle raised for beef in the U.S. eat grass for the first part of their lives, but the norm in the livestock industry is to send the animals to feedlots several months before slaughter. At the feedlots, they're also given grain to promote faster weight gain. Grain creates an acidic environment in the cows' digestive tract, which can lead to abscesses, ulcers, and infection, so grain-fed cattle are often given antibiotics to prevent these conditions. Cattle raised for meat or dairy that carry the American Grassfed seal are raised on pasture-based farms that provide optimal nutrition from grazing, and are never fed grain, animal byproducts (such as chicken slaughterhouse waste), or antibiotics. At times of the year when there's little grass on the pasture, forage or silage (compacted grass) is used.

Read Why What Animals Eat Matters.


Farms are visited every 15 months by independent inspectors who also check the farm’s records to ensure compliance with the standards.

Read Why Verification Matters.

Behind Our Ratings: Food-Label Seals & Claims

Consumer Reports takes a detailed look at the requirements, definitions, standards, and verification procedures behind food labeling seals and claims, and distills this information into CR ratings. Our goal is to inform and empower consumers so they can act to create demand for a healthier, safer food system.