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Two timely nutrient data sets provided by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists are being used by the beef and pork industries to provide new Nutrition Facts labels for their products. Federal rules require specific meat and poultry products to carry new nutrition information.
Although some retailers have already begun implementing the new rules, the original starting date of January 1 has been extended to March 1, giving retailers more time for implementation. USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that the new rules will make important nutrition information readily available to consumers for 40 of the most popular cuts of meat and poultry.
The data sets are provided by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Nutrient Data Laboratory (NDL), which is headed by nutritionist Joanne Holden in Beltsville, Md. The data sets for retail cuts of beef and pork provide retailers with easier access to the most accurate beef and pork nutrient data for the purpose of both on-pack and butcher-counter-posted nutrition labeling. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.
Previously, NDL researchers, in collaboration with representatives of the beef and pork industries and various universities, conducted several studies designed to update and expand the available nutrient data on current beef and pork cuts and products. The results led to a major update of beef and pork nutrient data in the USDA-ARS National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 24, which is managed by NDL. Called SR for short, the database is the major authoritative source of information about U.S. food composition.
The two downloadable data sets—"The USDA Nutrient Data Set for Retail Beef Cuts, Release 2.0" and "The USDA Nutrient Data Set for Fresh Pork from SR, Release 2.0"—are presented as both a PDF file and as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Users download the data sets, free of charge, onto a computer hard drive and use the data in conjunction with other software programs.
Read more about this research and how to download the files in the January 2012 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.