The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a final rule requiring
mandatory nutrition labeling on 40 major cuts of single-ingredient, raw meat
and poultry products. The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990
requires nutrition facts labels on most foods regulated by the Food and Drug
Administration, but USDA-regulated meat and poultry has been exempt,
allowing producers to supply the information on a voluntary basis.

Effective January 1, 2012, the rule calls for packages of ground or chopped
meat and poultry to feature nutrition fact panels on their labels, and whole,
raw cuts of meat and poultry to either include facts panels on their package
labels or have them available for consumers at the point-of-purchase.
Designed to educate consumers about nutrition and diets, the rule requires
the labels to supply the number of calories and the grams of total fat and
saturated fat.

“Additionally, any product that lists a lean percentage statement, such as ‘76 percent lean,’ on its label also will list its fat percentage, making it easier for consumers to understand the amounts of lean protein and fat in their purchase,” according to a USDA news release. Major cuts of raw, single-ingredient meat and poultry products include whole or boneless chicken breasts and other pieces, and beef whole cuts such as brisket or tenderloin steak. Ground or chopped meat and poultry products include hamburger and ground turkey.

New York University Nutrition Professor Marion Nestle was among those who welcomed the new rule, telling a news source that the labels “will be very helpful to people who are bewildered by what’s in meat. But people will be quite shocked at the calories and fat.” See Federal Register, USDA News Release and USA Today, December 29, 2010.

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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