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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Meat Labeling Coming

Meat Labeling Coming

Until now, fresh meat and poultry have been exempt from nutrition labeling legislation. In 2010 the USDA established mandatory labeling rules for fresh meat. Originally, these rules were scheduled to go into effect in January 2012, but the rules were postponed to make it easier for retailers to comply.

The new rules state that Nutrition Facts must be provided for the most popular cuts of beef, port, lamb, and chicken. This information may be provided through a brochure or poster. However ground meats such as ground beef and turkey must include Nutrition Facts on each package. Nutrition Facts information is based on averages for most meats since there may be variations between meats that are butchered on the premises, how much fat is trimmed and grades of meat. This information also could vary depending on how the meat is cooked. Portion size is based on three ounces of cooked meat which may vary depending on the amount of shrinkage that is expected. For example, four ounces of raw meat typically is about three ounces when cooked.

The new labeling makes it easier to understand claims such as “80% lean” since the fat content of ground meats is listed. Fat information will aid in comparing the amounts of saturated fat in different meats.

Sources: Tufts University Health and Nutrition Newsletter, March 2012 and printed in the UW-Extension Nutrition for Family Living Newsletter

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