More nutrition labeling proposed

Mandatory nutrition labeling would be expanded to include single-ingredient raw meat and poultry products under a U.S. Dept. of Agriculture proposal issued by Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman shortly before leaving office.

Nutrition information for major cuts such as steaks, whole turkeys and chicken breasts could be provided either on package labels or at point of purchase. Packages of chopped products, including ground beef, pork and turkey, would be required to bear a nutrition label. Meat and poultry producers would be allowed to continue to add a “percent lean” nutrient content claim on packages of ground or chopped meat and poultry products that do not meet the criteria for low fat. These labeling requirements are similar to those already in place for multi-ingredient products, such as sausage, luncheon meat, ground pork with seasonings, etc. Mandatory nutrition labeling was expanded because two USDA surveys showed that less than 60% of companies are voluntarily providing such nutrition labeling, even though it is required by law. Consumer groups, including the Center for Science in the Public Interest, described USDA’s proposal a step in the right direction, but called for mandatory labeling on all meat packages. CSPC called nutrition signs or brochures in grocery stores “totally worthless.” The group also criticized the decision to allow lean-percentage declaration, noting that no other foods can make such a statement without being low fat. USDA is accepting comment on its proposal until April 18, 2001.

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