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If Meat Contains Additives, USDA Wants Label To Say So

Meat enhanced with solutions and flavorings can have five times as much sodium as would naturally occur in the product.

Packaged Meat In A Grocery Cart

Photo: This Year

According to the USDA, about 30 percent of poultry, 15 percent of beef, and 90 percent of pork are injected with some kind of liquid solution before sale.

Good Reading Material

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) wants you to know if that meat you hope to purchase for this evening’s dinner has been injected with teriyaki sauce.

As it stands now, a package of raw chicken breast and a package of chicken breast enhanced with a solution can both be labeled as “chicken breast,” even if the latter is 60 percent chicken and 40 percent solution. A new rule from the FSIS proposes that labels now state the percentage of added solution and the ingredients in the solution in a font, size, and color that are easily visible to consumers.

Yes, producers are already required to label a product if it contains an added solution, but “even those (labels) that follow our current guidelines, may not be clear,” says Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen.

What’s In The Beef?

Consumers of meat have had the wool pulled over their eyes by misleading labels for years.

In fact, the USDA reports that approximately 30 percent of poultry, 15 percent of beef and 90 percent of pork are enhanced with solutions, and usually those solutions are high in sodium.

In 2007, the Center For Science in the Public Interest petitioned the USDA to require sodium limits in meat and poultry products. The group provided the example that Marvel Prime Young Turkey Breast (frozen) has 490 mg of sodium, while Shady Brook Farms Fresh Natural Young Turkey Breast contains only 60 mg.

According to the American Meat Institute, solutions add the flavor and moisture not found in leaner animals and “yield more tender meat and poultry products that are juicier and easier for consumers to prepare.”

Read More:

  • Got Enhanced Meat? USDA Rule May Make It Easier To Tell (NPR)
  • USDA Announces Proposed Rule to Better Label Raw Meat and Poultry Containing Added (USDA News Release)
  • USDA Wants Meat Labels to Disclose Additives (Food Safety News)
Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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