WASHINGTON Nutritional labels will be mandatory on 40 popular cuts of meat and poultry products beginning in 2012, a measure the U.S. Agriculture Department said on Wednesday will make it easier for consumers to understand the content of the foods they buy.
USDA said 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.
"More and more, busy American families want nutrition information that they can quickly and easily understand," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. "We need to do all we can to provide nutrition labels that will help consumers make informed decisions."
The nutritional panels will include the number of calories and the grams of total fat and saturated fat a product contains. A product that has a lean percentage statement, such as "76 percent lean," on its label also will list its fat percentage.
The new measure goes into effect on January 1, 2012.
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association said in a statement it supported showing the nutritional content of beef products on a label. But Kristina Butts, NCBA's executive director of legislative affairs, said the industry needed more time to implement the new requirements.
"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," said Butts.
"We wish USDA would have granted our request for an 18- to 24-month implementation period," she said.