Raw Meat to Get Nutrition Labels in 2012

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) - Nutritional facts will appear on the labels of meat and poultry products, thanks to new guidelines by the U.S Department of Agriculture.

However, you’ll have to wait a year to know what exactly is in your favorite hamburger meat. The guidelines, issued on Tuesday, aren’t effective until Jan. 1, 2012.

Once in effect, nutrition fact panels will be required to appear on 40 of the most popular cuts of meat and poultry, including whole or boneless chicken breasts, brisket or tenderloin steak, ground or chopped meat, and ground turkey. Consumers can check the Federal Register to find the full list of products requiring labels.

The information on the labels will include the number of calories and grams of total (and saturated) fat a product contains. Additionally, any product boasting how“lean” it is with a percentage statement, like "76% lean," will also need to list its fat percentage, making it easier for consumers to understand how much protein and fat is in their purchase.

According to the USDA, the guidelines were issued in response to an increased demand for accessible nutritional information for American families. (Their quest for information is understandable, considering the prevalence of food recalls.)

"We need to do all we can to provide nutrition labels that will help consumers make informed decisions,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release. “The USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services work hard to provide the Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years, and now consumers will have another tool to help them follow these guidelines."

Consumers with questions about the new labels can the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-685 Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST.

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