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Meat Gets Nutrition Labels

New labels for meat and poultry designed to help consumers pick healthier food.

If you’ve ever stood in the supermarket meat aisle and wondered whether beef tenderloin or top round beef is healthier, the government has your back. Starting on March 1, 40 popular cuts of meat and poultry are required to carry new nutrition fact labels. These labels, similar to the ones that already exist on other types of processed foods, will provide consumers with additional information on the nutritional content, such as calories, total and saturated fat, protein, cholesterol, and sodium. Meats that carry a lean percentage statement—such as “80% lean”—will also need to list the fat percentage. Not only will this give you a better idea of the protein and fat content of the meat, you will also be able to test your math skills. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which created the new rule, hopes the labels will help consumers select the best foods for a healthy diet. "More and more, busy American families want nutritional information that they can quickly and easily understand," the Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement on the USDA website. The ruling affects ground, chopped and raw cuts of meat and poultry. Ground or chopped cuts—such as hamburger or ground turkey—will carry the nutrition facts on the labels. Raw cuts—such as whole or boneless chicken breasts, or whole beef cuts like tenderloin steak—will either carry the nutrition facts on the label or be available in the store. As for which cuts of meat and poultry are healthier. For beef, “round” cuts are lowest in fat. For poultry, white meat has less fat than dark meat.

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