What Exactly is Free Range and Organic Meat?

Dollarphotoclub_57288963You may have been wandering around the grocery store and noticed some steaks labelled as 'organic' or chicken that is 'free range'. There's a lot of talk about organic and free range food these days, but what does it actually mean?

What's up with organic food?

Organic food is grown and produced naturally, that is, without synthetic chemicals or fertilisers. Generally, an 'organic' label on your food also means the company has a focus on animal welfare, environmental sustainability and wildlife protection too. Organic products come from free-range animals, so the chickens, cows and other animals have pastures instead of tiny pens and access to pesticide-free food.

Here's what organic means, according to the Australian Certified Organic standards:

Chicken and poultry

  • Comes from birds who can roam pastures for most of the day
  • Enough feeders and drinkers so they don't have to compete for them
  • Weather-proof housing with perches for roosting
  • Maximum of 2,500 chickens per hectare, 800 turkeys per hectare, 600 geese per hectare and 2,500 guinea fowl per hectare
  • Absolutely no debeaking or 'poly peepers', which are designed to stop birds from pecking.

Other meat

  • Comes from animals with a healthy diet, no force feeding
  • Bred in certain areas to minimise environmental impact
  • Good quality of life
  • Absolutely no tail docking, teeth clipping or permanent nose rings in pigs
  • Necessary modifications such as dehorning and castration only allowed when the animal is young to reduce suffering
  • Strict standards of animal transportation to reduce stress
  • No growth stimulants, no confided feeding areas
  • No slow killing methods.


  • Fish come from water with few or no heavy metals, pesticides and other contaminants. The tanks, dams and cages must also pose no contaminant risk
  • No extra stress during farming and slaughter
  • The natural habitats and needs of the fish are considered for the water quality, habitat and density of fish.

How do I buy organic?

If you want to join the movement and have some say in how your food is treated, looks for the logos of government-accredited groups that certify products. One of the most common ones is the Australian Certified Organic 'bud' logo, which is supported by major supermarkets, and ensures that the food adheres to strict production standards. The Free Range Egg and Poultry Australia (FREPA) logo of a chicken in front of the outline of Australia is another symbol that the produce you are buying is officially certified.

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Mireille Kilgour

Mireille Kilgour

Mireille Kilgour has been an entrepreneur for 35 years in the hospitality sector. French born, she has been an accomplished business owner and operator for a number of Sydney venues. Leading the industry with high profile institutions such as Lamrock Café Bondi, she has endless passion for the industry, and now has the pleasure of supporting restaurants to fill their tables with the new Good Food Gift Card program.