Meat Labels

Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - 4:19pm

Traditional nutrition labels will be required on the most commonly purchased cuts of meats beginning in 2012.

Those nutrition labels you've seen for years on everything from chips to cereal will soon be on the meat you buy. The USDA just announced the new labels will be required for 40 types of meat and poultry beginning in January 2012.

Many consumers have been confused by just how lean or how fat some types of meat and poultry are. Soon all that information will be right there for you to see.

A cut above or too fatty? That's what consumers have wondered for years about the meat they're buying.

Now the USDA says as of 2012 nutrition labels common on other foods, will be required for meat, poultry, pork, and lamb.

Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, the USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety, says "this is just another tool that lets them understand what they're putting into meals and feeding their families and what they're going to get out of that."

The new rules will not require every individual package to be labeled. Supermarkets will have the option of putting up signs with the information.

Michael Jacobson, from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, says "I think it's a missed opportunity. USDA could have required clearer labeling on both steaks and ground beef and poultry products but it chose not to."

The new labels will list calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol for 40 of the most commonly purchased cuts of meat, poultry, lamb, and pork.

Information buyers may find surprising.

Janet Riley of the American Meat Institute says "many consumers think, for example, that chicken breasts are extremely lean which they are, but they don't realize there are many cuts of port, like tenderloin or cuts of beef like the eye-of-round are equally lean and have the same amount of calories."

The meat industry has been labeling processed meats for years, but common cuts of beef and poultry have always been labeled on a voluntary basis.

The USDA hopes the new labels will help families make healthier choices, another step in the Obama administration's fight against childhood obesity.

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