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Thursday, December 30, 2010

USDA Requires Nutrition Labels for 40 Cuts of Raw Meat

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today announced that it will be making important nutritional information readily available to consumers on 40 of the most popular cuts of meat and poultry products. Under a new rule, packages of ground or chopped meat and poultry will feature nutrition facts panels on their labels. Additionally, whole, raw cuts of meat and poultry will also have nutrition facts panels either on their package labels or available for consumers at the point-of-purchase.

"More and more, busy American families want nutrition information that they can quickly and easily understand," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "We need to do all we can to provide nutrition labels that will help consumers make informed decisions. The USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services work hard to provide the Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years, and now consumers will have another tool to help them follow these guidelines."

The nutrition facts panels will include the number of calories and the grams of total fat and saturated fat a product contains. Additionally, any product that lists a lean percentage statement, such as "76% lean," on its label also will list its fat percentage, making it easier for consumers to understand the amounts of lean protein and fat in their purchase. The labels also must include details about cholesterol, sodium and vitamins in the product. The panels should provide consumers with sufficient information at the store to assess the nutrient content of the major cuts, enabling them to select meat and poultry products that fit into a healthy diet that meets their family's or their individual needs.

Examples of the major cuts of raw, single-ingredient meat and poultry products include, but are not limited to, whole or boneless chicken breasts and other pieces, or beef whole cuts such as brisket or tenderloin steak. Examples of ground or chopped meat and poultry products include, but are not limited to, hamburger and ground turkey. This rule is effective on Jan. 1, 2012. The Federal Register notice announcing this rule can be found at http://federalregister.gov/a/2010-32485.

The food industry's "nutrition facts" labels were revised in the early 1990s to give consumers uniform information about serving sizes and nutrients. They became mandatory on virtually all processed food by 1994. But raw cuts of meat generally were left out of the labeling overhaul.

The new rule comes at a time when consumer advocates and lawmakers alike are railing against the obesity problem among American children. Recent reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that American men consume 7% more calories — and women 18% more — than they did in 1971.

Food nutrition experts say consumers may be surprised at what they read: According to the USDA's Nutrient Data Laboratory, a 4-ounce serving of ground beef that is 80% lean meat contains about 280 calories — with 200 of those calories coming from 23 grams of total fat.

The American Meat Institute
, a trade group, said retailers would be challenged to roll out the new labels in time to meet the 12-month implementation period. Still, the group noted that the new requirements would give the industry a chance to tout some of its more healthful options at the meat counter.

Mark Dopp, the trade group's senior vice president of regulatory affairs, pointed out that a 3.5-ounce serving of skinless, boneless chicken breast is 165 calories and 3.57 grams of fat and the same-size serving of beef round roast has 166 calories and 4.87 grams of fat.

posted by CASFS 2006 @ 6:07 PM

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