Consumer group applauds bill requiring nutrition labeling on fresh meat and poultry

WASHINGTON- The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) today applauded a bipartisan bill introduced by Representative Nita M. Lowey (D-NY) and 12 other Representatives. The bill directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to require within one year the same nutrition labeling on all fresh meat and poultry that is now required for processed meat and poultry.

     “Red meat is one of the biggest sources of artery-clogging saturated fat and should bear Nutrition Facts labels,” said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of CSPI. “Frozen and processed meats already have nutrition labels. That same information also should be on fresh meat. Rep. Lowey’s bill will ensure that consumers get the facts about the fat in meat.”

     In 1993 USDA required nutrition labeling of processed meat based on rules developed by the Food and Drug Administration for most packaged foods. However, for fresh meat and poultry, USDA allowed supermarkets to display charts giving nutrition information for different types of meat.

     “The nutrition charts some stores are using are worthless,” said Jacobson. “Consumers often can’t find them, and, if they do find them, the information is unintelligible.”

     According to a 1999 CSPI survey of the 20 largest grocery chains, several chains — including Safeway, Albertson’s, Lucky, Jewel, and Winn-Dixie — provide nutrition information on ground-beef packages. Others, however — such as Stop & Shop, Costco, A&P, Kohl’s, Super Fresh, Giant, Sam’s Club, and Meijer — do not.

     Rep. Lowey’s bill is cosponsored by 12 other Members: Brown (D-OH), DeLauro (D-Conn), Foley (R-Fl), Hinchey (D-NY), Kaptur (D-OH), Kucinich (D-OH), Lee (D-Cal), Meek (D-Fl), Norton (D-DC), Pelosi (D-Cal), Roybal-Allard (D-Cal), and Waxman (D-Cal).