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FSIS Seeks Meat Labeling Changes

Lack of participation in voluntary program prompts action.

By American Agriculturist

USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service has posted proposed rules mandating nutrition labeling of the major cuts of single-ingredient, raw meat and poultry products and ground or chopped meat and poultry products. The reason FSIS gives for making such labeling mandatory is a lack of significant participation in the voluntary program. The proposed rule says that without nutrition information, consumers are not able to assess the nutrient content of the major cuts and thus cannot make educated choices about these products.

For ground and chopped meat and poultry products, the proposed rule would apply to single-ingredient, raw hamburger, ground beef, ground beef patties, ground chicken, ground turkey, ground chicken patties, ground pork and ground lamb. Under the proposed rule, nutrition information could appear at point of purchase for major cuts, but would need to be contained on the label for ground and chopped products.

The exemptions under this rule include products intended for further processing; products not for sale to consumers; products wrapped in less than half-ounce packages; products that are custom slaughtered or prepared; and products intended for export.

Additional exemptions for ground and chopped products would include processors that qualify for the small business exemption and products in packages with less than 12 square inches of label surface if no nutrition claims are made and contact information is provided. The agency is requesting public comment on the proposed rule.

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