As of March 1, the nutritional labeling that was voluntary for many types of raw meats has become mandatory. The new rule affects all ground meat and poultry and 40 of the most popular cuts of meat in the United States such as chicken breasts, steaks, pork chops, roasts, lamb and veal. If the nutrition facts are not on the package, as in the case of some larger cuts of meat, look for posters or signs at the meat counter for this information.

"It's the kind of information that consumers are asking for and we just think it's about helping people make their own best choices by having the information that they need," says Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, Undersecretary for Food Safety at the USDA.

These labels or posters include listings of total calories, calories from fat, levels of saturated fat, protein, cholesterol, sodium and iron. In addition to showing the lean content for a particular meat, such as "90% lean," labels must now also include the fat percentage, in this example "10% fat."

According to American Meat Institute AMI President J. Patrick Boyle, “This nutrition information will confirm for consumers what the latest U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recently said: that lean meat and poultry products are an important part of a healthy balanced diet.

“This final rule has been in progress for more than a decade, and the meat and poultry industry is pleased to provide nutrient content information to consumers about our fresh products,” he said in a statement.

"Nutrition labels have been required on processed meat and poultry products like bacon, ham and marinated pork loins for many years. Many fresh single ingredient meat and poultry products like steak, tenderloins and ground beef, also have carried labels voluntarily. Now, this valuable information will be offered more widely and will provide a pleasant nutrition surprise to many meat and poultry consumers.

"Meat and poultry products are nutrient dense and rich in protein, vitamins are minerals. Consumers should note that 29 cuts of beef, pork and lamb are considered lean.  A three ounce serving of meat or poultry contains between 160 and 200 calories and contains all nine essential amino acids.  That is why meat is considered a 'complete protein.'

"Recent research has shown that lean meat and poultry provide a sense of satisfaction that help control hunger and aid in weight control. More than 40 cuts of meat and poultry qualify for the definition of lean."

Sources: CNN, AMI