Meat labeling changes beneficial to consumers

NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - Changes at the grocery store could have you eating healthier, for virtually no extra cost.

The USDA is now requiring all fresh meat products, including beef, poultry, pork, and lamb to have nutrition labels on their packaging, or at least posted near the point of sale.

The labels will include calories, protein, cholesterol and sodium, and will help consumers make healthier choices.

Texas AgriLife Research Beef Cattle Nutritionist Jim MacDonald explains, "Hamburger has always been labeled as 80/20, or 90/10, or 95/5, which tells us the percent lean and the percent fat. That's now clearly labeled as being 95% lean and 5% fat and gives you the calories associated, as well as the grams of fat per four ounce pre-cooked serving."

The new system will help to standardize things across the industry, since up until now labeling was just voluntary. It's all at a very low cost to consumers.

MacDonald says, "The number I saw was less than a penny a pound, so consumers are really gaining a lot of information for no additional cost. We see this as a real win for the consumer."  

But it could also be a win for the meat industry.  For example red meats are often associated with being high in saturated fat, however the label shows there is also a lot of unsaturated fat.

The ruling does not include small meat packaging or processing companies.