Meat inspection agency proposes clean label reg

by Keith Nunes
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WASHINGTON — With the goal of providing consumers with additional information regarding what marinades or solutions may have been added to a meat or poultry product, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has proposed a new labeling rule.

Currently, raw meat and poultry products that contain added solutions such as water, teriyaki sauce, salt, or a mixture thereof may have the same name on their labels as products that do not contain added solutions, according to the agency. For example, a single-ingredient chicken breast and a chicken breast with added solution both may be labeled as “chicken breast,” even though one package contains purely chicken breast and one may be comprised of 60% chicken breast and 40% solution. While the label of the chicken breast with added solution must state that it contains solution, consumers may not notice such information if it is not a part of the product’s name. An example of a product name under the proposed rule would be: “chicken breast — 40% added solution of water and teriyaki sauce.”

The F.S.I.S. said it tentatively has concluded that, without specific, clear and conspicuous information about the percentage of added solution incorporated into the product, the labeling of the raw meat or poultry products is likely to mislead consumers. The proposed rule would require that the common or usual name of the products include an accurate description of the raw meat or poultry component, the percentage of added solution, and the individual or multi-ingredient components in the added solution. The print for such labels would be presented in a font, size, and color that are easily visible to consumers.

“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 Undersecretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen. “It has become evident that some raw meat and poultry labels, even those that follow our current guidelines, may not be clear.”

The F.S.I.S. has set a 60 day comment period for the proposed regulation, and comments may be submitted via the Internet or through the mail. Internet users may use the eRulemaking portal at Comments submitted by mail may be sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, F.S.I.S. Docket Clerk, Room 2-2127, George Washington Carver Center, 5601 Sunnyside Ave., Mailstop 5272, Beltsville, M.D. 20705.
All comments must identify F.S.I.S. and the docket number FSIS-2010-0012.

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