common questions

Choosing healthy, natural chicken for your table should be simple. We’ve compiled answers to a few of the most often asked questions about Just BARE chicken.

Simply click on a topic that interests you below, then select any question in that topic to see the answer. If you have questions not included here, please don't hesitate to contact us. We'd love to help.

LABEL CLAIMS
PACKAGE QUESTIONS
REARING PRACTICES
FOOD SAFETY QUESTIONS

Cage Free

Q. I noticed your label says that your chickens are “cage free.” What does that mean? [+]
It means that our chickens are never, ever raised in cages. They are free to move about in modern, climate-controlled barns with strict bio-security plans.  This reduces the threat of stress or exposure to the elements and environmental dangers such as avian influenza. 

Carbon Trust Certified

Q. What does it mean to be Carbon Trust Certified? [+]

Simply stated, it means that we have conducted a life cycle assessment (LCA) of our products (measuring their respective carbon footprints), and have made a commitment to the Carbon Trust to reducing them.  First certified in 2010 and re-certified in 2012, Just BARE was one of the first U.S. food brands and is still the only U.S. poultry brand who has worked with the Carbon Trust to become certified and gain approval to use the Carbon Reduction Label.

You’ll only see the Carbon Reduction Label on our Just BARE Retail Products (fresh and frozen) though.  That’s because we chose to conduct the LCA only on those products since we believe they are representative of our production as a whole provide a good benchmark upon which to build our carbon-reduction goals.  However, the "lifecycle" learning we gain will be applied across our entire company.

Grade A

Q. Is Just BARE chicken Grade A quality? It’s not on the label. [+]

Just BARE chicken does not display the Grade A shield but, in fact, actually exceeds Grade A standards for things like shape, meatiness, bruises, broken bones and meat color.  The totally clear package lets consumers judge the quality firsthand.  Accordingly, we wanted to use the label to provide other important attributes and information that cannot be assessed with the human eye.

No Antibiotics - EVER

Q. What does “no antibiotics—EVER” mean? [+]

There are a lot of claims regarding antibiotics usage. However, what's stated on the label is what really matters since only label statements are regulated by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. 

According to the USDA-FSIS definition, "No antibiotics-ever"  means a chicken has never been administered antibiotics during its life cycle. This includes while the chick is incubating in the shell as well as after it hatches and throughout its lifetime. Just BARE chicken meets these requirements and so we are able to state it on our labels.

Q. Is the use of antibiotics in chickens dangerous to humans? [+]

Antibiotics have been used responsibly and judiciously for many years in the chicken industry.   The USDA and FDA enforce strict standards for use of medications in food animals.

Any medication administered to animals used for meat has an established withdrawal period, meaning that medications cannot be used a specific number of days prior to the animal being processed.  This ensures that all medication has passed through the animal's system, thus virtually eliminating any risk of antibiotic residue in the meat. While there is controversy in the scientific community regarding administering antibiotics to chickens and creating "antibiotic resistance" in humans, there is no scientific evidence to support that this occurs with responsible antibiotics use. 

Nonetheless, a growing number of consumers simply prefer to buy meat products from animals that have never been given antibiotics.   And that is why we've totally eliminated the use of antibiotics in the rearing of Just BARE flocks.

Nothing But All Natural

Q. Does Just BARE chicken contain any added ingredients? [+]
No.  Just BARE chicken does not contain added solution or ingredients of any type including salt, water, carrageenan (seaweed extract) or other binding agents, or preservatives.  It's 100% all natural chicken and nothing else. While enhanced chicken can contain up to 330 milligrams of sodium per serving, all Just BARE all natural chicken contains 75 milligrams per serving.
Q. Does Just BARE chicken contain any allergens? [+]

No.  Because Just BARE is nothing but all natural chicken and does not contain added solution or ingredients, it is gluten free and it does not contain any allergens.  Unless you're allergic to chicken!

Q. Your packaging indicates that Just BARE is nothing but “all natural chicken.” Isn’t this the case with all chicken labeled “all natural?” [+]

No, it's not. Not all chicken products that bear "all natural" claims are truly nothing but chicken.

USDA's definition of "all natural" currently allows using an "all natural" claim on a label on chicken that has been enhanced with added water, sodium, carrageenan (seaweed extract) or other binding agents.  This is often referred to as "pumped-up" chicken.  While "natural," these added ingredients are often unexpected and confusing to consumers.  They can also affect the nutritional content of the food they're buying.  For example, a single serving of "pumped up" chicken can contain up to 370 milligrams of sodium.  Compare this sodium level to the following typically "salty" foods per serving:  potato chips, 180 milligrams; large order of fast food French Fries, 330 milligrams. That's why it's important to read the fine print on "all natural" labels, to ensure that the chicken you're buying is truly nothing but chicken.

Renewable Energy Support

Q. How does Just BARE support renewable energy? What are RECs? [+]

ALL Just BARE Products support renewable energy through the purchase of renewable energy certificates (or RECs, also commonly called renewable energy credits).  A REC represents one megawatt-hour (MWh) of clean energy that's added to the power grid.  We purchase RECs in a quantity equal to the electricity consumed during the making of ALL of our Just BARE products.  The funds generated through the purchase are used to support further development of clean energy facilities.

Truthfulness of Claims

Q. How do I know all the package claims on your label are truthful? [+]

Just BARE follows all labeling regulations as mandated by the USDA-Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS)-the agency responsible for ensuring the truthfulness and accuracy of labeling for meat and poultry.  Every Just BARE product label is reviewed and approved by the USDA-FSIS to ensure that all product claims are accurate and truthful.  

Vegetable & Grain Fed

Q. I noticed your label says “Vegetable & Grain Fed (no animal byproducts).” What does that mean? [+]

It means that Just BARE chickens are not fed animal byproducts of any type (includes meat and bone meal, and vegetable/animal fat blends).  Though these animal-based ingredients pose no safety risk, we switched to all-vegetable and all-grain sources for protein and fat due to more consumers wanting chicken raised without them.

Hormones: Not Allowed By USDA

Q. If there are no hormones added to your chicken, why doesn’t your label read, “hormone-free?” [+]

Our package does not read "hormone-free," because all living creatures have hormones in their bodies naturally, including chickens. These hormones regulate many of the chickens' functions similar to the way they do in humans. Because there are naturally occurring hormones in chicken, we can't state on our label that our chicken is hormone-free. 

Q. What does “no added hormones” mean? [+]

Simply stated, that means no hormones or steroids were used in the production of our chicken products.

In fact, no hormone or steroid has ever been approved by the USDA or FDA for use in poultry.  As a vertically integrated producer, we control every aspect of production - from hatching through processing and marketing. We mill our own corn-based feed using a proprietary formula that produces healthy chickens, and ultimately a wholesome, nutritious and flavorful consumer product.

Package Code

Q. How do I use the family farm code to trace a product’s origin? [+]

Simply go to JustBareChicken.com and enter the code (may be 3 or 4 digits) found on the package in the Enter the Traceability Code area of the “TRACE YOUR CHICKEN” page. What you'll learn the location of the family farmers who raised the chickens processed the day your package was made. Just BARE® respects the privacy and wishes of its family farm partners and, accordingly, may not provide more specific, personal information, based on each farm family’s individual convictions.

Q. What does the printed code contain that appears on the package? [+]

Every package of Just BARE chicken features a manufacturer's freshness and origin code that provides several pieces of important information, including:

  • A manufacturer's sell-by date that indicates when the product should be sold fresh by for best quality.
  • A use or freeze-by instruction that instructs consumers to cook or freeze the package of raw chicken within 48 hours of purchase.*
  • A unique product identification code that enhances product traceability and safety.
  • A family farm code that allows the product to be traceable to family farms where the chicken was raised.
  • Country of origin information, verifying the product was made in the U.S.A.

*It is not safe to use chicken products that have been stored in your refrigerator for more than 48 hours after being purchase-even if the sell-by date has not passed.  That's because very slight temperature changes dramatically increase product spoilage and bacterial development and growth.   Fresh chicken in the grocery store is kept at a very consistent, monitored temperature-which increases a product's shelf life. In contrast, when a consumer purchases fresh chicken, it's placed in the grocery cart, walked around the store, checked out, and transported home, exposing it to temperature variations and stress, reducing its shelf life.

Recyclability

Q. Is the whole chicken packaging recyclable? [+]

Unfortunately, the Just BARE whole chicken packaging is not recyclable.  For food safety purposes, the whole chicken bag is made of plastic that has barrier properties which make the plastic a type that is not currently recycled (so it's not accepted at municipal recycling centers). We will continue to research packaging options that would provide the necessary food safety properties while affording the added benefit of recyclability.

Q. Is your plastic tray recyclable? How do I know? [+]

Yes, but only on a limited basis.  Though made of recyclable #1 PET/PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic--the same plastic used to make most plastic bottles--they are not able to be recycled in the same way as bottles due to the way they are manufactured.   As a result, many municipal recycling programs do not sort them separately from bottles and recycle them. 

In case you're wondering, the package's peel-away plastic lid is made of a multi- layer PET and polyester material--which, like the tray, may be recycled on a limited basis.  However, we strongly suggest you check with your recycling program before attempting to recycle any of the package's plastic components.

Remember:  the package's paper label can be recycled with other paper products as well.

 

American Humane Certified®

Q. What is American Humane Certified Farm Program? [+]

The American Humane Certified Farm Program was the nation's first third-party audit program for farm animal welfare.  It is backed by the American Humane AssociationTM and based on the accepted values of the Five Freedoms created by Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) and adopted by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), as well as input from animal science experts, veterinarians and other animal husbandry specialists. 

It's built around a comprehensive set of science-based standards and sound research.  It represents the only RSPCA-approved structure for the rearing, handling, transport and slaughter of chickens. Its standards are reviewed regularly by the American Humane Certified Scientific Advisory Committee and consider legislation, government welfare codes, scientific research, advice of veterinarians, recommendations of the FAWC, and the practical experience of the farming community.

Q. What are the “five freedoms?” [+]
  1. Freedom from Hunger and Thirst. Ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain health and vigor.
  2. Freedom from Discomfort. An appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
  3. Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease. The prevention and rapid diagnosis and treatment.
  4. Freedom to Express Normal Behavior. Sufficient space, proper facilities and company of animal's own kind.
  5. Freedom from Fear and Distress. Conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.
Q. Why did we decide to certify our practices for Just BARE? [+]

We made the decision to third-party certify our animal care practices for Just BARE because animal welfare is a critical and expanding requirement for a growing segment of natural, more conscientious consumers we call "mindful eaters" and suppliers/retailers (like UNFI and Whole Foods). In fact, in a October 2010 survey of nearly 200 consumers, 91% of "mindful eaters" rated third-party animal humane certification as EXTREMELY or VERY IMPORTANT.

Q. Why did we choose to be certified by the American Humane Certified® Farm Program versus another third-party certifier [+]

We chose the American Humane Certified Farm Program because it is backed by the American Humane Association which has a long-standing reputation for protecting the world's most vulnerable: children and animals. Since its start in 1877, it has been at the forefront of almost every major advance in protecting children, pets and farm animals from cruelty, abuse and neglect. In fact, it was the first and is the fastest-growing third-party certification program in the U.S. Plus its farm program standards are based on science and sound research and guided by a scientific advisory committee of renowned animal welfare experts.

Furthermore, in October 2010, we asked nearly 200 consumers about how much trust they place in various levels of animal welfare claims. Choices included certification by a third-party animal welfare association, by a government or industry association, or by a company's own records. Nearly 62 percent of Just BARE target consumers said they placed a high degree of trust in certification by a third-party animal welfare association, as long as a known and reputable certifier executed it - more than twice that of each of the other two options.

With its founding association dating back to 1877, it being the nation's first and fastest-growing farm animal welfare program, and its sound, science-based standards, the American Humane Certified Farm Program is clearly a known and reputable certifier, making it a strong choice for animal welfare certification.

Q. Who guides the development of the program? [+]

The American Humane Certified Scientific Advisory Committee reviews American Humane Certified Standards regularly. Comprised of distinguished animal welfare experts, including Dr. Temple Grandin, the committee provides guidance and recommendations for the association’s activities and initiatives. More specifically, the committee:

  • Reviews and revises procedures, guidelines, policies and ethics
  • Initiates and evaluates original and secondary research
  • Guides the association in determining best practices
Q. Overall, how is the humane treatment of your flocks ensured? [+]

GNP Company™, the company behind the Just BARE® brand recognizes our ethical obligation to the health and humane care of our chickens—and we take that responsibility very seriously. From breeding, to hatching, to processing, our policy is straightforward—GNP Company has zero tolerance for any deliberate abuse or mistreatment of our chickens. Learn more.

Animal Care & Welfare

Q. Does your company have an animal welfare policy? What is it? [+]

GNP Company™, the company behind the Just BARE® brand recognizes our ethical obligation to the health and humane care of our chickens—and we take that responsibility very seriously. From breeding, to hatching, to processing, our policy is straightforward—GNP Company has zero tolerance for any deliberate abuse or mistreatment of our chickens. Learn more.

Chicken Feed

Q. What do you feed your chickens? [+]

We provide our chickens quality feed that is natural and nutritionally balanced.  Our proprietary formulas are developed under the direction of experienced nutritionists to produce healthy chickens, and wholesome, tasty chicken products.  Our feed contains nutritious corn, soybean meal, minerals, vitamins and other natural ingredients-most of which is sourced locally.  There are no antibiotics, no added hormones/steroids, no animal byproducts and no arsenicals.

Q. Where does your chicken feed come from? [+]

We have long-term relationships with reputable suppliers for all of our feed ingredients, including many local family farmers who provide us with corn harvested from their fields.  Our suppliers are based in the upper Midwest and meet all FDA and USDA standards for feed safety and quality.  Accordingly, we have 100% confidence in the integrity, wholesomeness and safety of all of our feed ingredients. 

Q. Does Just BARE chicken feed contain GMOs? [+]

GNP Company, the company behind Just BARE, does not restrict or limit the use of genetically modified (GM) crops by the independent family farmers who supply the primary ingredients used in the Just BARE chicken feed. While there are some critics of GM crops, no adverse effects on human health have been scientifically proven due to the direct consumption of GM foods nor the indirect consumption of meat made from animals raised on feed made from GM crops. Ultimately, the FDA monitors and regulates the safety of feed ingredients like GM crops to ensure safe consumption for animals and humans, and we follow their lead. Furthermore, we do not have high levels of confidence in claims of no GM crops in feeds since it is nearly impossible to prevent cross-pollination of non-GM hybrids/varieties by the wind and/or insects with nearby fields planted to GM hybrids or varieties. For more information, please read our Just Dish blog posts regarding GMOs: Let’s Talk GMOs. Are We Asking the RIGHT Questions? and Let’s Talk GMOs. Are We Asking the RIGHT Questions? Part 2

Q. Are arsenicals fed to Just BARE flocks? What are they? [+]

No, arsenicals are not given and never have been given to Just BARE flocks because of consumer concerns surrounding their use. However, arsenicals (one common type is Roxarsone) have been used by some other chicken companies in their chicken feed. They contain a small amount of an organic, naturally occurring form of arsenic, and help prevent a serious illness, called coccidiosis. This illness occurs in the intestinal tract of chickens, causing suffering and even death.

Q. If Just BARE flocks aren’t given arsenicals, how are the illnesses it's used for prevented? [+]

Just BARE flocks are given a proprietary feed formula to control illnesses like coccidiosis (affects the intestinal tract).  This is used in conjunction with a proactive and progressive Active Grower Management Program. This helps us better control the chances of disease and ensures the proper care and handling of our broiler (meat chickens) and breeder (egg-laying chickens) flocks. Learn more. 

Avian Influenza: Chicken is Safe

Q. Do I have to worry about eating chicken that has been exposed to avian influenza? [+]

Avian influenza is NOT a food safety issue.  Avian influenza (low or highly pathogenic strains) cannot be transmitted by properly cooked poultry.  No one has ever become infected with avian influenza by consuming properly cooked poultry or poultry products. 

For more details visit: http://www.nationalchickencouncil.org/bird-flu-its-not-in-your-food/questions-and-answers-on-avian-influenza/

Q. Is there anything I can do to help protect myself from avian influenza? [+]

Again, avian influenza is not a food safety issue.  Nonetheless, one sure means of protection is always cooking your chicken well done.  Visually, that means until juices run clear and the meat is no longer pink. And a fork should insert easily into the meat. However, to be safe every time, the USDA recommends always using a meat thermometer and cooking chicken to an internal temperature of at least 165°F.  Keep hands and surfaces clean.  Hand-washing is the single most effective means of preventing the spread of bacteria and viruses.  Use hot, soapy water; scrub at least for 20 seconds, and don't forget your fingernails!   For more details, visit http://www.nationalchickencouncil.org/bird-flu-its-not-in-your-food/questions-and-answers-on-avian-influenza/

Q. What precautions—if any—do you take to decrease the risk of avian influenza? [+]

As an added safety precaution, a portion of  every Just BARE flock is voluntarily tested, under USDA's National Poultry Improvement Plan, before the chickens leave the barn for the presence of H5/H7, the Avian influenza strains that may be passed to humans (and have in Asia and other countries).

If a strain of H5/H7 avian influenza is found in a commercial flock (which is extremely unlikely due to the strict bio-security safeguards in place), the entire flock will be humanely euthanized and will not enter the food supply.  In addition, the area will be quarantined to prevent spread to wild birds or other poultry flocks.

Since this testing began, every Just BARE flock has been free of avian influenza H5/H7.

Q. What’s avian influenza? [+]

Avian Influenza is a common disease that occurs in chickens.  GNP Company, the producer and distributor of Just BARE, takes avian influenza very seriously, and has been successfully protecting its flocks from this, and other illnesses, since the first cases surfaced more than 20 years ago.  It is something the poultry industry in the U.S. has been dealing with effectively for many years. 

Q. Where can I get more information about avian influenza? [+]
To learn more about avian influenza and the safety of poultry products, visit www.avianinfluenzainfo.org or www.cdc.gov. Our consumer care specialists are also on hand to answer your questions.
     By Phone: At 1-877-328-2838 (M through F, 8 am to 4:30 pm CST)
     By Email: At wecare@justbarechicken.com.

The Basics for Safe Cooking & Handling

Q. How do I know my chicken is properly cooked? [+]

There are some visual cues to help you know when your chicken is thoroughly cooked.   These include:

  • Juices should run clear and there should be no sign of pink in the meat.
  • A fork should insert easily into the meat.

However to be sure, experts  advise to always use a meat thermometer.  USDA Food Safety & Inspection Service recommends cooking chicken regardless of cut to an internal temperature of at least 165°F.   Though you may want your chicken more well done. 

Take the temperature in the thickest section of the thigh or breast.  Be sure the temperature probe doesn't touch the bone or the cooking surface.

Q. What can I do to ensure safety while cooking and handling fresh chicken? [+]

Most food safety issues related to chicken and other fresh meat arise from bacteria (such as salmonella) common in the digestive tracts of farm animals. These bacteria are easily destroyed by heat. Therefore, proper cooking of poultry virtually eliminates the risk of these potentially harmful bacteria. Visit the bare basics section for more safe cooking tips for chicken as well as tips for safe handling. For more information, please read our Just Dish blog post about the safe handling of chicken: Stick it to Salmonella. Keep chicken safe.

Last Updated 8/20/14

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