USDA to Require Nutrition Labels on Meat

March 5th, 2012

For the first time consumers will get more information to help them decide if cutting down on meat is right for them. As of March 1st, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is requiring that nutrition information be posted on 40 of the most popular cuts of raw meat including chicken breasts, ground beef, pork chops and steak. Nutrition labels will offer a wide variety of information like calories, serving size, cholesterol and saturated fat content. In addition, meat labels will be required to show both the lean content and fat percentage (a cut marked “90% lean”, for example, will now also say “10% fat”).

The new rule, first announced in December of 2010, is meant to help shoppers find choices that fit their dietary needs and health goals. “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,” said Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen in an official USDA statement. “These new labels mark a significant step in the agency’s efforts to help consumers make more informed food purchase decisions.”

Consumers can use this new information to comparison shop between meat products and protein sources that tend to be lower in calories and saturated fat, like lentils, brown rice and tempeh. The labels will also help eaters understand appropriate serving sizes and the nutritional benefits of cutting back, which may in turn lead to more Meatless Mondays.