November 17, 2019

New Labels on Meat and Poultry

A new USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) rule went into effect on Thursday, mandating that nutrition information found on processed foods also be shown on labels for raw poultry and meats.

The old law required labels only on meat and poultry products that had added ingredients, such as stuffing or marinades. Forty of the most popular cuts will have info on the labels or on a prominently placed display at the store. And all ground meats will carry the label.

The government wants people to have this information because most meals are planned around meat. Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen said, “Providing nutrition information on meat and poultry products in the store gives shoppers a clearer sense of the options available, allowing them to purchase items that are most appropriate for their families’ needs.”

Here’s what you need to know about this new information:

  • Ground poultry and ground meat must carry a nutrition label.
  • Forty other products, such as chicken breasts, pork chops, steaks, and roasts, will also carry the new label.
  • The number of calories, grams of total fat, and saturated fat grams per serving will be listed. This should help consumers compare calories and fat content for different products.
  • The percentage of lean and fat content will be stated; the old labels only stated the percentage of lean.
  • The labels do not have to list trans fat, although 80% of nutrition labels do voluntarily include that figure.
  • Small businesses that grind meat and poultry are exempt from the rule, as long as they list the lean and fat percentages and don’t make any other nutritional claims.

The proposed change was published in the Federal Register on December 29, 2010. This new law will add less than half a penny per pound to the cost of ground meat and ground poultry. The new labels can be seen at the FSIS web site.

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