What Meat Nutrition Labels Mean

Reviewed by Sarah Klemm, RDN, CD, LDN
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Shopping for hamburger meat, chicken breasts or pork chops? Did you know that Nutrition Facts Labels have been required on certain meat products since 2012? This nutrition information can help make it easier to make a more informed choice in the meat aisle.

All ground or chopped meats (for example: ground beef, ground pork, ground turkey) must have a Nutrition Facts Label on the package. In addition to these ground and chopped meats, 40 of the most popular whole, raw cuts of meat and poultry (sometimes known as the "major cuts") must have nutrition information featured either on a package label or a store display —such as a sign or brochure—at the point-of-purchase.

If a ground or chopped product includes a lean percentage statement on the label, it must also display the percentage of fat. For example, if a meat product is 85 percent lean, then 15 percent fat must also be stated on the package.

What's on the Label?

The information on the Nutrition Facts Label is the same as that of other foods and includes the amount of calories, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, total sugars, added sugars, protein, vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium that is provided per serving.

The label also includes serving size and servings per container. Although, servings per container is not mandatory for major cuts of meat, it is required for ground and chopped products. The number of servings per container on these may be listed as varied.

While the label is required to state nutrition information for the product as packaged (in this case, raw meat), it also may include an additional, optional statement about the nutrient content for the product as consumed (for example, when it’s cooked).

Which Meats Have Nutrition Facts Labels?

Major Cuts:

The following major cuts of single-ingredient, raw meat and poultry products must have nutrition information on their label or at their point-of-purchase.

Beef

  • chuck blade roast
  • loin top loin steak
  • rib roast large end
  • round eye round steak
  • round top round steak
  • round trip roast
  • chuck arm pot roast
  • loin sirloin steak
  • round bottom round steak
  • brisket (whole, flat half, or point half)
  • loin tenderloin steak
  • rib steak small end

Pork

  • loin chop
  • loin country style ribs
  • loin top loin chop boneless
  • loin rib chop
  • spareribs
  • loin tenderloin
  • loin sirloin roast
  • shoulder blade steak
  • loin top roast boneless

Poultry

  • whole chicken (without neck and giblets)
  • chicken breast
  • chicken wing
  • chicken drumstick
  • chicken thigh
  • whole turkey (without necks and giblets; separate nutrient panels
    for white and dark meat permitted as an option)
  • turkey breast
  • turkey wing
  • turkey drumstick
  • turkey thigh

Lamb

  • shank
  • shoulder arm chop
  • shoulder blade chop
  • rib roast
  • loin chop
  • leg (whole, sirloin half, or shank half)

Veal

  • shoulder arm steak
  • shoulder blade steak
  • rib roast loin chop cutlets

Ground or Chopped:

All ground or chopped meat and poultry products, with or without seasonings, require Nutrition Facts Labels on the package or nutrition information at the point-of-purchase.

Examples of ground or chopped products include:

  • raw hamburger
  • ground beef patties
  • ground chicken
  • ground turkey
  • ground chicken patties
  • ground pork
  • ground lamb

Source: USDA

For More Information

Have you noticed any changes to the Nutrition Facts labels? Many manufacturers already have started to adapt the new Nutrition Facts label on their products, and the new Nutrition Facts label will appear on all food items by January 1, 2021. Learn more about the new labels by visiting the FDA website.  

Quick Guide to Reading a Nutrition Facts Panel

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