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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Eating Well


ground beef package with Nutrition Facts labelNew nutrition labels on meat and poultry make decisions easier


As of March 1, 2012, a new rule of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service took effect. The rule requires nutrition labeling on major cuts of raw meat and poultry products.


Nutrition labels will be required on most cuts of raw meat at the grocery store. The nutrition facts label will list total calories, calories from fat, total grams of fat and grams of saturated fat. The labels will also provide information about protein, sodium, cholesterol and some vitamin and mineral information.


Before this labeling requirement, ground beef listed the percentage of fat present in the beef, but that doesn’t tell you how much fat or total calories per serving. For example, you know that 90% lean ground beef has less fat than 80% lean, but there was no way of knowing exactly what that means from a nutritional standpoint.


“The labels will make it easier to make decisions about what types of meat and poultry to purchase,” said Tammy Roberts, nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension.


The new label will tell you how many calories you are getting from a 4-ounce serving of the product. For example, one serving of 90% lean ground beef contains 200 calories, 11 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat and 22 grams of protein. The 80% lean hamburger provides 280 calories, 22 grams of total fat, 9 grams of saturated fat and 19 grams of protein.


“When you have this type of information it makes it easier to understand why there is a price difference and it makes it much easier to make a decision based on nutritional value,” said Roberts.


The average American should consume around 2,000 calories per day. Roughly 55-60% of the calories should come from carbohydrates, 30% from fat and 10-15% from protein. This comes out to 67 grams of total fat and no more than 16 of those grams of fat should be saturated. Protein should be around 50-75 grams per day.


“The new labels on meat arm the consumer with one more tool to make the best decisions for their health. I look forward to using them myself and I think there are many people, especially those with certain health conditions, that will greatly benefit,” said Roberts.


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Last update: Tuesday, April 03, 2012