Natural: What does the term “natural” mean?

The USDA regulates the use of the term “natural” on meat products and according to USDA regulations, the term “natural” may be used on labeling for meat products if it meets the following guidelines:

  • The product does not contain artificial ingredients, coloring ingredients, or chemical preservatives; and
  • The product is minimally processed.


To help make sense of these chicken labeling terms, this infographic explains some of the most common labeling terms on chicken packaging so you can feel more informed the next time you buy chicken for your family.

According to the USDA, all natural products should include a brief statement on the product label that explains what is meant by the term “natural” (i.e., that the product is natural because it contains no artificial ingredients and is only minimally processed). This statement should appear directly beneath or beside all natural claims (or, if elsewhere, an asterisk should be used to tie the explanation to the claim).

Looking for more information?

If you’re curious about what other labels you might find on packages of chicken mean, check out this infographic on common chicken labeling terms.