April 10, 2013
Change In Meat Cut Names Coming To The Butcher Counter
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
With grilling season heating up, the US meat industry is overhauling its nomenclature for various cuts of meat.
As a joint effort by the National Pork Board and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the updates to the Uniform Retail Meat Identification Standards (URMIS) are designed to “increase consumer confidence by simplifying common names for meat and offer shoppers consistent, easy-to-follow preparation instructions,” according to a statement on the official URMIS website.
The changes are expected to affect about 350 cuts of meat and are an attempt to make the names more consumer-friendly and less anatomically-focused. The upcoming changes would be the first major overhaul of meat industry nomenclature in four decades.
For example, the cut formerly known as “boneless shoulder top blade steak" will become "a flatiron steak,” “beef bottom round heel side boneless” is now “merlot steak” and “Pork butt” is now the more dignified but less descriptive “Boston roast.”
One of the most notable changes is to pork chops, which will now become either "porterhouse chops," "ribeye chops" or "New York chops."
"One of our biggest challenges has been the general belief among consumers that a pork chop is a pork chop," National Pork Board director Patrick Fleming told Reuters. "But not all pork chops are equal, and not all pork chops are priced equally."
Meat industry officials said the labeling in the meat section was too puzzling for consumers with names like “beef shoulder top blade steak,” sending shoppers looking for a more-familiar named cut.
The update to URMIS is “about eliminating some of those meat- industry butcher terms that may be confusing or unappealing,” National Cattlemen's Beef Association spokesman Trevor Amen told Bloomberg News. “We just really want to make it simplified for the consumer when they´re shopping.”
The USDA has approved the new nomenclature, which is expected to be seen in stores by June or July. While following the URMIS guidelines is strictly voluntary, most US retailers typically use them.
Some industry observers said that the change could be related to the overseas drop in demand for US meat, as both Russia and China have raised concerns about possible ractopamine, a food additive used to make meat leaner. Receding demand has translated into a dramatic increase in supply, according to Agriculture Department data.
In addition to the drop in overseas demand, many cite the extended winter weather experienced by the northern half of the US as a factor in reducing domestic demand for meats often cooked on an outside grill.
A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture´s Food Safety and Inspection Service and Agriculture Marketing Service said the organizations were kept informed of the upcoming changes and they support any action to boost meat sales.
“USDA is definitely in support of this new standard because it should equate to more consumer-friendly names for the meat,” Sam Jones-Ellard, told Bloomberg.
Reports reassured traditionalist shoppers that the updated labels will list both the old and new names. Also, Reuters has reported that “ground beef will still be ground beef” and “chicken breast“¦ will remain a breast.”