Rule Overview

March 2011

On December 29, 2010, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture published a final rule that requires nutrition labeling for single-ingredient muscle cuts and ground meat and poultry products. This analysis provides a brief summary of the rule. In the coming months more information will be available as FSIS releases educational materials on how to comply with the rule.

Under the rule, ground meat and poultry products must have the nutrition labeling applied to the retail package, except with limited exemptions for small packages and small businesses. For muscle cuts of meat and poultry, individual packages may be labeled with nutrition information or nutrition information may be displayed to consumers in a poster or sign in close proximity to the food. Retailers need to provide nutrition information to consumers only on major cuts as classified by USDA.

Failure to provide this mandatory nutrition information will render the product misbranded. The new rule also permits ground or chopped meat and poultry products that do not qualify for a low-fat claim to bear a lean percentage claim as long as it is accompanied by a percentage of fat statement.

These changes will become effective January 1, 2012.

Ground or Chopped Meat and Poultry Products

Under the rule ground or chopped meat and poultry products, with or without seasonings, must have nutrition labels on the package. Products required to be labeled include single ingredient raw hamburger, ground beef patties, ground chicken, ground turkey, ground chicken patties, ground pork and ground lamb. Point of purchase information will not suffice. Posters cannot be used for ground and chopped products. Nutrition labels do not have to be placed on the principal display panel. They may be placed on the side or back of a package.

Ground or chopped meat or poultry products must comply with the nutrition information label requirements for packaged meat or poultry found in 9 CFR § 317.309. The label is required to state nutrient content as packaged, but may include an additional, optional statement of nutrient content as consumed. The number of servings per container may be listed as varied.

Because meat and poultry are not generally a source of fiber, sugar, vitamins A and C, and calcium, these nutrients do not have to be listed in the label so long as they are included in a “not a significant source of . . .” statement.

Some exemptions apply. For example, packages that are less than ½ ounce with less than 12 square inches in total surface area, and products that are ground at a customer’s request at retail and contain no nutrition claims or information are exempt.

In addition, small businesses such as producers and retailers who employ 500 or fewer employees and produce no more than 100,000 pounds of a particular ground product annually in a single facility or multi-plant or store company, are exempt; provided no nutrition claim or information is made on the product label.

Lean Percentage Claims

Ground or chopped meat or poultry products that are not eligible to make a “low fat” claim may include a statement of the lean percentage on their labels. However, if a lean percentage claim is made, the label must also include a statement of the fat percentage (e.g. %fat/%lean). This is a change from current industry practices, where many producers of ground products list a ratio that represents percentage of lean and percentage of fat (e.g. 90/10 or 80/20).

Major Muscle Cuts

Major muscle cuts of single-ingredient, raw meat and poultry products must bear nutrition information either on the label or at the point of purchase. In the final rule, ground beef and ground pork are no longer included as major cuts of meat and are addressed separately. No small business exemption applies to the requirement to label major muscle cuts.

If the nutrition information is included on the product’s label, the label must bear complete nutrition information as required by 9 CFR§ 317.309. The label does not need to state the number of servings per container.

However, most retailers will chose to comply with the nutrition labeling requirements for muscle cuts by placing a poster in close proximity to the meat case.

Posters that list the following nutrients for the major cuts of meat and poultry will generally be in compliance with the rule:

  • Calories
  • Calories from fat
  • Total fat
  • Saturated fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium
  • Total carbohydrate
  • Protein
  • Iron1

Because meat and poultry are not generally a source of fiber, sugar, vitamins A and C, and calcium, these nutrients do not have to be featured in the poster so long as they are included in a “not a significant source of . . .” statement.

Nutrient content may be stated as packaged or as consumed. Percent daily value is not required for nutrients listed on the poster except for iron.2

Nutrition information must be calculated based on trim levels reflecting current marketing practices.

Major Cuts of Meat Products (9 CFR §317.344)
Beef Beef Pork Pork Lamb Veal
Chuck blade roast Round bottom round steak Loin style country ribs Loin top roast boneless Shoulder arm chop Shoulder blade steak
Loin top loin steak Round bottom round steak Loin style country ribs Loin top roast boneless Shoulder arm chop Shoulder blade steak
Rib roast large end Brisket (whole, flat half, or point half) Loin top loin chop boneless Loin sirloin roast Shoulder blade chop Rib roast
Round eye round steak Rib steak small end Loin rib chop
Rib roast Loin chop
Round top round steak Loin tenderloin steak Spareribs
Loin chop Cutlets
Round tip roast Chuck arm pot roast Loin tenderloin
Leg (whole, sirloin half, or shank half)




1Iron must be listed only if it is at a level of 2 percent RDI or greater. Vitamins A and C and calcium must also be listed if they are at a level of 2 percent RDI or more; however, for raw meat and poultry they generally will not reach this level. A not of significant source statement is required for vitamins A, C and calcium.

2USDA rules require percent daily value to be listed for vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, and E; calcium; iron; thiamin, riboflavin; niacin; folate; biotin; pantothenic acid, phosphorous; iodine; magnesium; zinc; and copper.



Major Cuts of Poultry Products (9 CFR §381.444)
Chicken Turkey
Whole chicken (without neck and giblets) Whole turkey (without neck and giblets; separate nutrient panels for white and dark meat permitted as an option)
Chicken breast Turkey breast
Chicken wing Turkey wing
Chicken drumstick Turkey drumstick
Chicken thigh Turkey thigh

 
 
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