Meat to Ring in New Year With Nutritional Labels


File under “Things You Probably Don’t Want to Know”: Beginning on January 1, meat will carry the same nutritional labels found on just about everything else you can buy in the supermarket.

USA Today reports that the new USDA labels will be applied to 40 of the most popular cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and poultry, and will list the usual suspects: calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, protein, and vitamins.

Nutritionists and Ag secretary Tom Vilsack think this will be a good thing, as it will raise consumer awareness of the potential caloric minefield lurking beneath the shrink-wrapped plastic. The meat industry, according to a flack for the American Meat Institute, is using the new labels to emphasize “the many lean choices in the meat case.” But regardless of how health-conscious consumers are, one could argue that they’d all be better served by labels providing a more, ahem, holistic picture of their meal. Saturated fat may be a drag, but so are veterinary drugs, pesticides, and heavy metals — and, of course, that old chestnut E. coli.