What Meat Nutrition Labels Mean

Reviewed By Jill Kohn, MS, RDN, LDN
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Buying hamburger meat, chicken breasts or pork chops? Do you know what the nutrition labels mean? Since 2012, certain meat products have required nutrition labeling. Having this nutrition information available allows shoppers to make a more informed choice in the meat aisle.

All ground or chopped products (e.g. ground beef, ground pork, ground turkey) must have nutrition information on the package label. In addition, 40 of the most popular whole, raw cuts of meat and poultry (a.k.a. "major cuts") will have nutrition information featured either on package labels or on display to consumers—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 required nutrition information is the same as the Nutrition Facts listed on other foods and includes total calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sugars, protein, vitamins A and C, calcium and iron.

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

While the label is required to state nutrient content as packaged, it may also include an additional, optional statement of nutrient content as consumed (cooked).

What Meats are Labeled?

Major Cuts:
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 labels on the package.

Examples of ground or chopped products:

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

Source: USDA

For More Information

Quick Guide to Reading a Nutrition Facts Panel

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