Monday, June 18, 2012

New Meat Labeling Rules

On March 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture implemented a new nutrient labeling rule for single-ingredient meat products. The rule states that whole muscle cuts of red meat and poultry, as well as ground and chopped meat, must include nutrition facts on the package label along with the product name and other information already listed. The nutrition information also may be provided in poster or brochure form at meat cases. Seafood is not included.

Nutrient labels have been required for multi-ingredient (formulated) meat products since the early 1990s, while nutrient labels for single-ingredient meat products remained voluntary. The USDA recently determined, however, that voluntary compliance was not high enough and the agency decided to implement mandatory single-ingredient labeling.

An exemption for small businesses applies to very small processors or retailers, which are not required to provide nutrient labels for ground and chopped meats. However, if the business makes a nutrition claim about its product, it then will be required to include a label. No one is exempt from including nutrient information on major cuts -- including certain beef steaks and roasts, pork chops, some cuts of lamb and some cuts of veal.