Meat Will Get New Nutrition Labels

New Rule Calls for Listing of Calories and Fat on Labels of Meat Products

By Bill Hendrick
WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 4, 2011 -- Important nutritional facts aimed at helping consumers know more about what they're eating will be required on labels of 40 of the most popular cuts of meat and poultry under a new rule from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The rule, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2012, requires nutritional labels on the meat and poultry packages to list the number of calories, grams of total fat, and saturated fat.

In addition, says a news release from the USDA, products will be required to list a lean percentage statement on labels, such as "76% lean," and also the cut's fat percentage, making it easier for consumers to understand the amounts of lean protein and fat in the packages they are considering buying.

The USDA says food panels will give consumers the information they need to determine the nutrient content of the cuts of meat and poultry they see in stores, helping them develop a healthy diet to meet individual or family needs.

"More and more, busy American families want nutrition information that they can quickly and easily understand," Agriculture Department Secretary Tom Vilsack says in a news release. "We need to do all we can to provide nutrition labels that will help consumers make informed choices."

He says the USDA will "work hard to provide the dietary guidelines for Americans every five years," and that the new rule will give consumers informational guides.

Cuts of Meat and Poultry That Will Get New Labels

Major cuts of raw, single-ingredient meat and poultry products include whole or boneless chicken breasts and other pieces of chicken, and beef whole cuts such as tenderloin steak or brisket, according to the USDA. Examples of chopped meat and poultry products include ground turkey and hamburger.

Brian K. Mabry, a spokesman for the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, tells WebMD that other raw meat products also covered under the new rule include:

  • beef chuck blade roast
  • beef loin top loin steak
  • beef rib roast large end
  • beef round eye round steak
  • beef round top round steak
  • beef round trip roast
  • beef chuck arm pot roast
  • beef loin sirloin steak
  • beef round bottom round steak
  • beef brisket
  • beef rib steak small end
  • beef loin tenderloin steak

But those items aren't all the foods that fall under the new rule, Mabry says in an email. Others include:

  • pork loin chop
  • pork loin country style ribs
  • pork loin top loin chop boneless
  • pork loin rib chop, pork spareribs
  • pork loin tenderloin
  • pork loin sirloin roast
  • pork shoulder blade steak
  • pork loin top roast boneless
  • ground pork, lamb shank
  • lamb shoulder arm chop
  • lamb shoulder blade chop
  • lamb rib roast
  • lamb loin chop
  • lamb leg
  • veal shoulder arm steak
  • veal shoulder blade steak
  • veal rib roast
  • veal loin chop and veal cutlets


According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

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SOURCES: News release, U.S. Department of Agriculture.Brian K. Mabry, deputy director, congressional and media, Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Education, Food Safety and Inspection Service, via email.Federal Register.

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