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USDA To Require Nutrition Labels on Meats

posted on December 30, 2010

Less than two months after some of his priorities took a "shellacking" in the mid-term elections, President Obama likely will reflect on 2010 positively; thanks, in part, to a flurry of bills passed at the 11th hour of a lame-duck session.

In addition to approving a nuclear arms reduction treaty, Congress repealed the "don't ask, don't tell" law affecting gays in the military, approved an $858 billion tax-cut deal and passed the largest overhaul of food-safety regulations in 70 years.

The $1.4 billion food safety bill gives the FDA authority to order recalls of tainted foods.

And in a similar move this week, the Agriculture Department announced also is making some changes in hopes of protecting consumer health.

USDA To Require Nutrition Labels on Meats The Agriculture Department announced this week it will require many meat labels to include the number of calories and other nutritional information. The new rule will take effect in 2012. USDA hopes this move will help consumers make healthier decisions about what they eat.

The nutritional information will be required for major cuts of raw, single-ingredient meat and poultry products. These include whole or boneless chicken breasts, beef whole cuts such as brisket or tenderloin steak, and hamburger and ground turkey. The new labels will contain information on calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and protein.

The rule is part of the government's effort to educate Americans about nutrition and diets. It applies to 40 of the most popular cuts of meat and poultry products. Ground meat and poultry will have the facts on their labels. Raw cuts will offer the information on labels or to consumers where it's purchased.

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

Meanwhile, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association said it supported showing the nutritional content of beef products on a label, but insisted the industry needed more time to implement the new requirements.

In a statement, officials said, "While NCBA believes consumers have the right to know what nutrients are found in meat, we also realize retailers and others in the food-production chain will face significant new costs associated with this final rule. We wish USDA would have granted our request for an 18- to 24-month implementation period."

The new measure goes into effect on January 1, 2012.

Tags: agriculture food meat news nutrition shopping USDA