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NewsBites October 2011 Issue

USDA Proposes More Prominent Labeling of Meat Additives

What’s in that chicken breast? The USDA wants to make it easier for consumers to find out. It’s proposed a new rule that would require poultry and other raw meats to more prominently label additives such as salt solutions, chicken broth, teriyaki sauce or water. Meat producers already have to disclose when a product has been “enhanced,” but the USDA proposal would make that part of the product’s title, such as “Pork tenderloin— 15% added solution of water and teriyaki sauce.” According to the USDA, about 40% of all raw, whole cuts of meat contain such additives, including a third of poultry, 15% of beef and up to 90% of pork. (The new rule would not affect ground meats.) “Enhanced” products are typically higher in salt, which can pose problems for those watching their sodium intake. “Consumers should be able to make an informed choice in the store, which is why we need to provide clear, informative labels that will help consumers make the best decisions about feeding their families,” said Elizabeth Hagen, head of food safety at the USDA. Poultry producers were divided in their reaction to the proposed rule, while the American Meat Institute called it “wasteful” and “unnecessary.”

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