USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) final rule requiring nutrition labeling for most single-ingredient, raw meat and poultry products, including ground products, went into effect yesterday.

Prior to yesterday, USDA required nutrition labels only on meat and poultry with added ingredients, such as a marinade, or if the product was cooked and ready to eat.  Most chicken companies selling fresh products to retail outlets, however, have for several years voluntarily labeled much of their raw, single ingredient products with nutritional information.

According to USDA, the new nutrition facts panels will list the number of calories and the grams of total fat and saturated fat that a product contains. For example, consumers will be able to compare the calories and fat content for ground turkey versus ground beef, or for pork chops versus chicken breasts, right in the store. Additionally, a ground or chopped product that includes on its label a lean percentage statement, such as “85% lean,” and is not considered “low in fat” also will list its fat percentage.

“Chicken has long been recognized for its positive nutritional benefits as one of the most nutrient-rich, lean protein options, giving consumers the highest rate of nutrients for their food dollar,” said NCC Vice President of Communications Tom Super in a press release in response to the rule taking effect.

“While most chicken companies selling fresh products to retail outlets have for several years voluntarily labeled much of their products with nutritional information, this new labeling rule will allow consumers to more fully appreciate the sound nutritional value that chicken offers,” he added.  “The National Chicken Council encourages food shoppers to use this nutrition information on meat and poultry products to help better select the options that are best for their families and their dietary needs.”

FSIS recently issued Notice 15-12 to inspection program personnel explaining their responsibilities under this new labeling rule.  Although inspectors will begin inspecting for compliance with the rule, they have been instructed not to tag or retain product for noncompliance at this point.   The notice outlining inspectors’ responsibilities in several areas is available here.