USDA Proposes Rule to Establish Common Name for Raw Meat or Poultry with Added Solutions

Aug 02, 2011   

On July 21, 2011, the U.S. Department of Agricultures (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced its proposal to establish a common or usual name for raw meat and poultry products that include added solutions that may not be visible to the consumer. The Agency proposes that the common or usual name for such products should include “an accurate description of the raw meat or poultry component, the percentage of added solution incorporated into the raw meat or poultry product, and the individual ingredients.” (For the full text of the proposal, click here.)

This proposal is part of the USDAs ongoing effort to develop truthful, easy-to-read labeling information intended to keep consumers better informed about food products on the market. Under the current guidelines, raw meat products that do contain added solutions may have the same name on their labels as products that do not contain added solutions. As a result, these raw meat and poultry labels pose a serious risk of misleading consumers about a packages content.

For example, a package of raw meat that contains 100 percent chicken breast and a package that contains 60 percent chicken breast and 40 percent added solution can both be labeled as “chicken breast.” Even though product labels must currently indicate when a package contains added solution, the USDAs new proposal would require raw meat and poultry labels to clearly indicate, using common names, what percentage of a particular solution has been added to the product. For example, a label under the new rule would require a package to say “chicken breast “ 40% added solution of water and barbecue marinade.”

FSIS is also proposing that the print for all words in the common or usual name appear in a single font size, color, and style of print and that the name appear on a single-color contrasting background. The FSIS believes the change in labeling style will help consumers differentiate between single-ingredient raw meat and poultry products and raw meat and poultry products that have added solution. Through these proposed rules, the Agency “seeks to ensure that the common or usual name consistently conveys to consumers that these products contain added solutions.”

In addition to the changes in labeling, the Agency proposes to remove 9 C.F.R. § 381.169 for ˜˜ready-to-cook poultry products to which solutions are added.” This rule requires product labels to indicate when substances, such as flavor enhancers, are added to the raw meat. The Agency suggests removing this provision because the proposed rule, if finalized, would already require all raw meat and poultry products containing added solutions to comply with specific labeling requirements.

If the USDAs proposed rule is finalized, these labeling requirements would apply to all meat and poultry products containing added solutions, including meat that has been sliced or cut up and re-packaged at a retailer or other official establishment.

Fuerst Ittleman will continue to monitor the development of the USDA FSISs new proposed rule. For more information, please contact us at contact@fidjlaw.com.