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Better labeling for raw meat and poultry proposed

By Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

As strange as it seems, when consumers look at packages of raw meat and poultry in the display case at the store, they can’t tell which ones are filled with liquids and which ones aren’t.

A new rule is being proposed for the use of easy-to-understand names for raw meat and poultry products that include solutions, such as injections and marinades, that may not be visible to the consumer.

Currently, raw meat and poultry products that contain added water, teriyaki sauce, salt, or a mixture these items may have the same name on their labels as products that don’t contain added solutions, U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said in a statement. 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 only chicken breast and one may be 60 percent chicken breast and 40 percent solution.

While the ingredient label of the chicken breast with added solution must state that it contains solution, consumers may not notice the information if it isn’t a part of the product's name. An example of a product name under the proposed rule would be: "chicken breast – 40 percent added solution of water and teriyaki sauce."

Consumers may be buying raw meat and poultry products with higher sodium content than they realize.

The print for such labels would be presented in a font, size, and color that are easily visible to consumers.

The agency is asking for comments on the proposed rule.

Copyright 2011, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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