New look to meat nutrient labels

Hoard's Dairyman: 

New look to meat nutrient labels

Date: 
Wed, 01/18/2012

Labels on single cuts of beef and pork better reflect nutrient composition.

The next time you purchase beef or pork from the grocery store or butcher shop look at the label. Prior to March 1, 2012, the nutrition facts label on these cuts of meat will be updated to more accurately reflect the nutrient composition of the product inside. The nutrient composition was determined for nine fresh pork cuts, both raw and cooked. For beef, the nutrient content of 13 raw and cooked retail beef cuts was determined. Beef cuts had fat trim levels close to what is found in current retail cuts.

The update makes nutrition information more accessible to consumers for 40 of the most popular cuts of meat. New labels will help consumers follow the recommendation in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans published by the USDA. Labels will include the number of calories and saturated fat, cholesterol, protein, sodium, and so forth. Any ground products that lists a lean percentage on its label will also list its fat percentage.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Nutrient Data Laboratory (NDL) provided the new nutrient data sets. The data will make it easier for producers to provide mandated on-pack and butcher-counter-posted nutrition labeling. Prior to this rule, few retailers voluntarily provided their own meat labels.

New nutrient data for fresh meat is needed as the agricultural industry’s animal husbandry practices and industry procedures evolve and improve with time. NDL researchers collaborated with the beef and pork industries and several universities to conduct the studies designed to update the available nutrient data. For beef, the 1/8 inch, beef value cuts, and beef nutrient data base improvement studies were conducted.

The results of the studies conducted led to a major update of the beef and pork nutrient data sets in the USDA-ARS National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 24. This database is an authoritative source regarding food composition in the U.S. for more than 7,500 food items.

For more information, click here.