Having rib steak or rib chops for dinner tonight?

Updated labeling of meat packages simplifies information for consumers.

Recent research verifies that consumers are confused at the meat case. This confusion is related not only to the name on some cuts of meat but also on how to properly prepare those cuts once home. Most consumers gravitate back to three or four cuts they are familiar with and do not venture to try new cuts because they are unsure of how to prepare different cuts. Research indicated that consumers want to try new cuts and would be more willing to do so if they had more guidance on the meat labels.

The National Pork Board and Beef Checkoff partnered to conduct the research with consumers to determine what information is needed to better understand cuts. This research resulted in revised Uniform Retail Meat Identity Standards. The new labels are consumer tested and approved for use by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service and Agricultural Marketing Service. The labels are available for use currently and can be used as consumers prepare for the grilling season.

Labels will be simplified. The simplification includes consumer-friendly names that will appear on the first line in larger text. The second line will include cut characteristics such as species, wholesale cut and if the product is bone in or boneless. A third line will include information for the consumer on how to best prepare the cut for a satisfactory eating experience. Other standard information such as safe handling instructions and the name of the retailer will remain on the label. Additional consumer information such as recipes will be included on the packages.

Consumers are familiar with many beef cut names such as Porterhouse Steak, New York Strip Steak, or Rib Steak. Pork cuts will now be labeled in a similar manner with names like Porterhouse Chop, New York Chop, or Rib Chop. Pork chops are not the only cuts that have new names; in fact, there are 14 fresh pork cuts with updated names.

Beef and pork producers have been excited to learn about the newly approved labels for meat since Michigan State University Extension experts shared the new research and labels. Opportunities for retailers to sell more cuts will add value to the carcasses the livestock producers raise.

Retailers will be able to use the Uniform Retail Meat Identity Standards and UPC labels will remain the same for each product. Resources for retailers to update scales with the new information and other resources can be found on the Meat Track website.

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