Meat Gets New Nutrition Labels Thursday

All major cuts of packaged meat and poultry will have to bear more detailed information on their fat content.

By Sam Schulz
|  Thursday, Mar 1, 2012  |  Updated 3:27 AM PDT
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Packaged cuts of meat will be getting new nutrition labels Thursday.

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If you've ever looked at a package of hamburger meat and wondered what exactly "85 percent lean" means, you might get your answer the next time you go grocery shopping.

As of Thursday, grocery stores will be required to label all packaged major cuts of meat and poultry, as well as ground meats, with detailed nutrition information.

The new rule from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service requires that all the major meat cuts be labeled — either with stickers or posters — with their total calories, fat calories, saturated fat levels, protein, cholesterol, sodium and iron.

And in addition to that "85 percent lean" label, every package will also state what percentage of the product is fat.

Small businesses that grind meat will be exempt from the new rule as long as they list lean and fat information on packages and don't make other nutritional claims.

"It is not that the labels are different, it's that you will be seeing them on products you haven't seen them on before," the USDA's undersecretary for food safety, Elisabeth Hagen, told WebMD.

"So now you can actually look and say, 'OK, if I choose the ground turkey over the ground beef, or the porterhouse steak instead of going with a pork chop or some lean chicken breast, what is that going to mean to me in terms of the choices I make today and the choices I make tomorrow?'

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