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AMI Supports Mandatory In-Store Nutrition Information for Fresh Meat and Poultry Products

Tuesday, July 17, 2001

Washington, DC – The American Meat Institute (AMI) today called for mandatory nutrition information in supermarkets for cuts of fresh meat and poultry products.

Citing meat’s positive nutrition profile and consumers’ interest in healthy diets, AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle said the information would help consumers make informed purchases.

“Meat and poultry companies have provided nutrition information about their products for the past decade,” Boyle said. “We support providing the same kind of information about fresh cuts at the point-of-purchase in supermarkets.”

In comments submitted to FSIS today, AMI supported the agency’s proposal to mandate nutrition information for fresh cuts of meat and poultry at the point-of-purchase (i.e. supermarkets), but expressed concerns about the cost and accuracy of on-package nutrition labeling for ground or chopped, single-ingredient raw meat and poultry products. AMI supports the continued use of percent fat/percent lean labeling on ground products.

FSIS’s nutrition labeling proposal would require on-package nutrition labels on all ground or chopped meat and poultry products. It also would continue the current practice of using percent fat/percent lean labels on ground products. The proposal would require nutrition information in the form of signs or brochures at the point-of-purchase for single-ingredient whole muscle cuts.

Representing the beef industry, AMI worked with the livestock and supermarket industries and USDA in the 1980s to develop “Meat NutriFacts,” a voluntary in-store nutrition information program for fresh meats. The program has been expanded to include other products and has been widely used in supermarkets. AMI believes point-of-purchase information, such as posters and brochures, for the 45 major cuts of meat and poultry is the best way to present nutrition information and is better than on package labels. Regarding on-package labeling, AMI said, “Because there are more than 3,300 cuts of beef alone (when you differentiate among products of different grades and trim levels) sold at retail, it would be extremely difficult to label each product from every species with nutrition information.”

On-package labeling for ground meat and poultry products, which FSIS also proposed, creates a similar dilemma. Seventy-five percent of ground or chopped fresh meat and poultry is ground from trimmings by supermarkets. Retailers do not have the equipment necessary to determine accurately the nutrient content of the finished product. Accurate labels can be placed on ground products only at the packing plant on individual case-ready packages.

A March 2001 Wirthlin Worldwide study indicates that consumers do understand the percent fat/percent lean labeling currently used on ground or chopped products. Therefore, AMI recommended retailers continue providing this information as consumers understand and use this information to make purchases.

AMI represents the interests of packers and processors of beef, pork, lamb, veal and turkey products and their suppliers throughout North America. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute provides legislative, regulatory and public relations services, conducts scientific and economic research, offers marketing and technical assistance and sponsors education programs.

For more information contact:
Janet Riley
Vice President, Public Affairs
Josee Daoust
Manager, Public Affairs

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