February 29th, 2012
03:08 PM ET

Nutrition labeling for meat becomes mandatory

The next time you shop at  the grocery store, you may see something new– nutrition labels on meat.  The same types of labels you already find on other foods.

In 1993, the U.S. Department of Agriculture made nutrition labeling voluntary for many types of raw meats. The labeling becomes mandatory on Thursday.

The new rule affects all ground meat and poultry and 40 of the most popular cuts of meat in the United States such as chicken breasts, steaks, pork chops, roasts, lamb and veal. If the nutrition facts are not on the package, as in the case of some larger cuts of meat, look for posters or signs at the meat counter for this information.

"It's the kind of information that consumers are asking for and we just think it's about helping people make their own best choices by having the information that they need," says Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, Undersecretary for Food Safety at the USDA.

These labels or posters include listings of total calories, calories from fat, levels of saturated fat, protein, cholesterol, sodium and iron. In addition to showing the lean content for a particular meat, such as "90% lean," labels must now also include the fat percentage, in this example "10% fat."

"The information can also be used to comparison shop among products. If a consumer is concerned about total calories or saturated fat, for example, they can compare and contrast products and possibly make a selection based on the nutrient content of the food," says Registered Dietitian Heather Mangieri, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

And she adds that the best cuts of meat are those that provide "the best nutrient bang for our calorie buck."

"When it comes to beef, those cuts that include the word round are the lowest in fat, with loin being a close second. In poultry, dark meat has more fat than white meat," Mangieri says.

soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. ICDogg

    Why is meat being singled out? How about vegetables and fruits?

    February 29, 2012 at 17:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Mike Hunt

    Great! Now that we have that important information maybe we should have a label which states dietary ingestion to help people make their own best choices."needle please"

    February 29, 2012 at 22:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Galina L.

    I wish they would inform us about amounts of hormones and antibiotics. It is almost useless to take into account the nutrient content of a uncooked meat because of nutrients loss during cooking. I am watching the amount of carbohydrates and chemicals I eat, nothing else, and most of the time choose red meat over white, fat over lean, lamb over pork because lamb is a grass-fed meat.

    March 1, 2012 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. John

    Right, What we need is to know what "factory" the meat has been processed.

    March 1, 2012 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Fiona

    I m more curious where this animal was reared, the conditions it grew up in. And what are the drugs that it was administered & when?

    March 1, 2012 at 19:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Stan

    Good for the USDA, it is a step in the right direction, people need to know what they are eating, so there are two components, one, labeling the food we eat in grocery stores and restaurants, and two getting the information to people like on the ThinDish site. Hopefully the USDA pushes for greater detail on the meat like Galina says...

    March 2, 2012 at 16:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Dana Houser, MD

    Well...as of today (March 4th) and the purchase of said meat, NO nutrition facts panel to be had...

    March 4, 2012 at 18:22 | Report abuse | Reply


    March 4, 2012 at 19:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Portland tony

    So stupid....Your typical shopper biggest Concern is price and tasteless . The government is being elitist in, as well as intrusive by suggesting what meats are healthier than others. For example ....ground beef at 95% fat free makes a lousy Burger....while. beef with 65-80% makes one good juicy tasty Burger because the fat brings flavor. The USDA should be more concerned with the amounts of preservatives, steroids and antibiotics that are present in "healthy meat"!

    March 5, 2012 at 09:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Portland tony

      Correctly ....and taste...not tasteless.

      March 5, 2012 at 09:49 | Report abuse |
    • mostlyagreeable

      Calm down there. There is nothing elitist or intrusive about labeling nutrition. That is an absurd statement. The government isn't in the business of telling you what meat to choose for making hamburgers. This simply provides the consumer with more information. I agree with you about preservatives, steroids, etc. Fat content is certainly not the only factor to consider.

      March 6, 2012 at 02:44 | Report abuse |
  10. Becky

    I too would like to see what was crammed into the animal for growth, and the conditions it was grown in...as opposed to how "healthy" it is.
    I am so glad (and lucky) I have the space and resorces to grow my own beef. Hopefully in the near future, I will have my own chicken and pork too.

    March 5, 2012 at 15:47 | Report abuse | Reply
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