USDA Proposes Raw Meat Label Changes

USDA to better inform consumers

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) When purchasing raw meat and chicken, the labels don't always clearly detail whether marinades or injections were added. The United States Department of Agriculture hopes to rectify that.

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service officials have proposed a new rule that would require common and easy to understand labels for raw meat and poultry, that includes a list of any additives that may not be visible to consumers.

"Consider purchasing meat from a butcher to be assured of no undeclared additives."

USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen said the rule would allow consumers to make better choices at the grocery store so that they can make the best possible decisions about what to feed their families. She said it is evident that raw meat and poultry labeled under current guidelines may not provide enough clarity for consumers.

The organization determined that labels often do not clearly identify whether solutions have been added to raw meat to enhance the flavor or texture, which may result in shoppers buying meat with unexpected high sodium content. The labels are proposed to distinguish meat and poultry with additives from those with no added solutions.

Under the current guidelines, raw meat and poultry with solutions such as water, teriyaki sauce, salt, or a mixture of those ingredients can have the same label as the same product with no additives. That is true even if the amount added was substantial. The new guidelines also would require that the percentage of the added solution be printed on the package to ensure that consumers are not misled.

The new rule would require an accurate description of the raw meat or poultry component, the percentage of any added solution, and the ingredients in the added solution. It would also require that the labels are presented in a font, size and color that is easy for consumers to read.

The agency is currently taking public comments on the proposed rule.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 22, 2011
Last Updated:
July 25, 2011