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New meat regulation on the way

January 3, 2011

Nutrition Fact Labels for Meat Products Will Appear in January 2012 – ABC News.

Here is a new regulation I was not aware was in the pipeline – 40 different cuts of meat will need to start displaying the standard nutrition labels seen on most foods beginning in January 2012.  Basically, the nutrition sidebar you see on the back of a bag of potato chips will now be prominently displayed on certain cuts of meat, presumably the most popular cuts like ground beef products (which is not really a “cut”) and poultry.

Here is my problem with this crap – it does nothing.  People who read the labels on the food they purchase are already cognizant of the nutritional values of meats, or are we to assume they are only health-conscious to everything besides proteins?  People who don’t read the labels aren’t going to start just because they are added to a new category.

The following quote gives a perfect example of the thinking behind these labels:

“When the information we provide does not influence habits, we cannot assume that means people don’t care, it may simply mean we have given them facts, but not knowledge,” said Katz. “Knowledge requires a step beyond facts. It requires interpretation of facts.”

The labels are designed to “influence habits” as Katz asserts.  If that is the case, they sincerely have a marketing problem, because most people don’t understand half the crap that is on a label?

The biggest concern by most of the people supporting this new regulation is that regarding fats.  You know, the evil part of proteins and practically every other form of food that, in case you were unaware, actually provides the flavor.  There has been a huge campaign against fats going on half a century now, which is my opinion, has led to more confusion than anything.  Fats are not bad!  Certain fats are, but go figure, they are the ones most often created by us, not naturally occurring in most food products, especially proteins like red meat.  I am speaking of trans-fats that result from the process of hydrogenating oils.  Just so you know, not much trans-fat in nature, most notably only in ruminants (read cows) and in that case only a small percentage, about 2-5%.

And here is the problem – how many of you even understand what all this crap even means?  Would you know a hydrogenated oil if you were staring one in the face?  Most people wouldn’t, because if they did, they would stop buying margarine.  And this leads to the real problem – nutrition science is worthless.  There is so much confliction of what is the right and appropriate form of foods to eat, that to follow a certain “school of thought” almost requires a leap of faith.  let’s take margarine as an example.  It came about and was touted as the cure for the ills that is butter, because butter is bad for you because it is high in saturated fat (damn, fats are just evil!).  But, like most things involving science. we “discovered” that trans-fats are freaking worse than saturated fats, so now margarine is also bad for you.  And now we must use vegetable oil or olive oil or go back to butter.  I like to cook if you haven’t noticed, and in my opinion, they can all bite me, butter is king!

In my opinion, if these people supporting nutrition labels on meats actually want to accomplish something, they need to forget about nutrition guidelines which I guarantee will be proven inaccurate in 20 years, and add labels detailing the proper handling and sanitary guidelines regarding meats in the home.  Despite what may be thought, almost 90% of food borne illness in America is caused by the home cook.  I say caused because for the most part it is totally preventable.  People need to understand that most of the meat products (eggs are a meat product) they purchase from the store are covered with bacteria that will be more than happy to live in their digestive system.  It is not a rare instance to have eggs with salmonella, in fact most if not every egg in your fridge probably has this bacteria on the shell.  Same with chicken.  I doubt most people know the proper ways to handle this food to prevent cross-contamination or even self-contamination like getting egg shells in your fried eggs.  I feel this would be a much more beneficent and more effective form of labeling than nutrition labels that most people don’t read anyway.

But I am probable being naive, most people won’t read “proper handling” labels either.  So I think the true issue is the same issue that has always effected America, that of personal responsibility.  If you care about your health and what you put in your body, than you are familiar with the relative nutritional values of the cuts of meat you use and you know how to properly handle said meat to keep you from getting sick, so no label will do anything for you.  If you don’t care, than no label will also do anything for you.  So once again, the good government g-men have come up with a new regulation that will do nothing but add to the cost of living in America.  Thanks guys.

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. JustFacts permalink
    January 3, 2011 12:13 pm

    The whole point of all of this is that “they” have to do something to justify there existence. They couldn’t request a whopping budget increase if they said, “It’s the people’s responsibility to police themselves on nutrition, food handling, etc.” Congress “has” to pass new laws each session, or people will get the idea that they aren’t needed. To me, the most successful congressional session would be one in which no hearings were held, no bills were introduced, no junkets were taken, etc. But, then all of our “career politicians” wouldn’t have anything to do. Why do we need the “bureaucrats” to tell us the content of meat? It’s just another form of control. Once it starts being labeled, then they can start regulating “how much” of each particular ingredient is contained in it. Personally, if the steak looks good, then I will eat it. I don’t care what the little label says. On the other hand, guess who is going to end up paying for the cost of the little label, and the process for figuring out the percentages of contents. Get ready for the $10 / lb hamburger meat.

    • January 3, 2011 8:09 pm

      You are exactly right. Especially the last part about the 10 dollar a pound hamburger, which by the way is the main source of food borne illness as far as red-meat products are concerned.

  2. January 3, 2011 4:12 pm

    The government has no business worrying about what I eat or don’t eat. I don’t recall ever voting for someone because they said they were going to look after my nutrition. I want them to look after my taxes not my diet.

    • January 3, 2011 8:10 pm

      I agree wholeheartedly.

  3. January 3, 2011 8:51 pm

    I became an adult a long time ago, and I don’t need bureaucratic nursemaids. I want these left-wing busybodies out of my food, out of my alcohol, out of my tobacco, out of my bathroom (regulations on how much water can be used per flush), out of my choice of household lighting (the soon-to-be-mandatory mercury swirl bulb sucks), out of my Internet, out of my health care, and especially out of my government. Those of our elected representatives that still retain a modicum of common sense need to start slapping these sick SOBs silly.

    • January 3, 2011 9:58 pm

      Say it brother! Spot on.

  4. January 4, 2011 12:42 am

    As long as they don’t interfere with my bacon addiction, we’ll be OK.

    Seriously though, you make good points.

    • January 4, 2011 6:31 am

      Mmmmm, bacon!

      • January 4, 2011 3:31 pm

        Bacon is awesome. But most bacon is pre-packaged not cut at the store, so it already has a nutrition label.

        And why is bacon so damn good? A little magic called pork fat. =) yummy

  5. January 4, 2011 6:35 am

    I just love that term, “influencing behavior.” This is becoming a common term in this country, we already know that Obama’s car czar wants to “influence” people out of their cars and into public transportation and this is just another example of the government wanting to have some say in virtually all aspects of our lives. Putting labels on meat may be harmless, but it is the mindset behind this idea that can be dangerous if we allow this to continue.

    • January 4, 2011 3:36 pm

      The other problem with the quote I provided about influencing habits is the assumption that providing information, or the quotee’s more important “knowledge”, would result in everyone reaching the same conclusions, thusly the behavior influenced would be predictable. This mentality is dangerous and childish because it assumes when people don’t behave the predicted way then there is something wrong with the recipient, as opposed to the information provided. Global warming “facts” are the ultimate example of this thinking – everyone agrees we are destroying the planet, so how can most people continue to use regular lightbulbs? The only conclusion the “scientists” can come to is that the people are flawed, not the scientists’ information.

  6. bunkerville permalink
    January 4, 2011 7:56 am

    How much longer will we be “allowed” to eat Pork? I am sure it is only a matter of time until we will be required to be “Sharia” compliant. Enjoy your bacon Matt and Steve while you can!

    • January 4, 2011 3:40 pm

      For you bacon lovers, here is a fun fact:

      The largest pig on record was a Poland-China hog named “Big Bill.” He weighed a portly 2,552 lbs and was so large that he dragged his belly on the ground. He had a shoulder height of 5 feet and a length of 9 feet.

      That is a literally a “ton” of bacon!

  7. January 4, 2011 1:43 pm

    Does a “meat product” have any relation to the animal from whence it came? I found this to be the most disturbing part of the article.

    • January 4, 2011 3:50 pm

      I think in this regard, most cuts at a butcher come from very large parts of animals called primals, so they are relatively unprocessed until you get into sausages and such, though I should convey a warning about ground beef. Most ground beef sold at larger super-markets are not ground on site, but at the processing facility, this leads to many problems regarding food borne illness, because most often the end product is the combination of multiple animals, unlike what would happen at a small butcher who grinds his own product where he would grind from a cut from a single animal. Remember, ground beef (or pork) has infinitely more “surface area” than say a steak, the whole damn thing is surface. Most bacteria live on the surface of meats, hence why it is fairly safe to eat a steak medium-rare or around 130 degrees F.(the way you should). Conversely, the only true safe way to eat a ground beef product (that is not ground from a single cut) is to cook the internal temperature to 160 degrees, which is way beyond “juicy” and “tasty” and more towards “charcoal briquette.

      “Meat products” are usually processed foods and do have little relation to the animal on the package, for example “turkey bacon”.

  8. January 4, 2011 6:31 pm

    Thinking that meat can be nutritionally labeled with any accuracy is crazy anyway. A cow, pig, chicken, sheep, fish, or what-have-you is not created out of bags of chemicals measured by robotic devices into big vats in factories. Animals have different biological make-ups, eat different feeds that have varying nutritional complexities, and are exposed to hugely different environments.

    This is all about social engineering by whoever in the government is actually thinking. For those who aren’t thinking, it is all about being a self-congratulating follower of fashion.

    • January 4, 2011 8:09 pm

      Excellently put. Especially your last remark.

  9. LD Jackson permalink
    January 4, 2011 10:44 pm

    When I was in FFA and showing beef cattle, I learned a lot about how meat was graded by the USDA. One of the things they looked for was how the cuts of meat was marbled with fat. As you said, fat isn’t necessarily a bad thing and I have always said I preferred a steak, hamburger, etc. with a little fat included, as it gives it a much better flavor.

    I think your idea of labels detailing the proper handling is a good one.

    • January 4, 2011 10:58 pm

      The most expensive beef in the world is real Kobe beef and Wagyu beef, why, because of its fat which as you stated is defined by its marbling. A standard USDA graded “prime” cut is usually around a 6 on the marbling scale (scale of 1-12), Wagyu often rates a 12. That is a lot a of fat my friend, and the reason the beef is so expensive, because it tastes freaking insane!

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