July 21, 2011

Truthful Labeling Coalition Supports USDA Proposal to Require Clear, Honest Labels for Saltwater-Soaked Poultry

WASHINGTON, July 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Truthful Labeling Coalition (TLC) is pleased to announce its support of a new proposal from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that will require clearer and more informative labels on so-called "enhanced" meat and poultry products. This new regulation will protect consumers from the deceptive labels some processors currently use to obscure their practice of injecting saltwater solutions into their products.

The TLC applauds the USDA for taking action on this matter, which the coalition has urged for several years. In 2004, a handful of poultry processors persuaded USDA to begin allowing labels on saltwater-injected poultry that did not clearly indicate the additional injection of sodium and other ingredients. USDA estimates that today approximately 39% of all ready to cook meat and poultry products available in the marketplace are "enhanced," most of which goes unnoticed by the average consumer because of misleading labels. Despite a chorus of criticism, including a 2004 report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology that found the new labeling was "ineffective at best, and misleading at worst," USDA refused to change course - until today. Today's proposal demonstrates that the USDA is finally listening to American consumers and health experts.

"Consumers purchasing fresh, all natural, chicken believe it is a healthy choice," said Charles Hansen, on behalf of the Truthful Labeling Coalition. "They don't expect to find high sodium levels in fresh chicken, nor do they expect to pay for that hidden saltwater weight as part of the overall package price."

With today's announcement, the USDA is opening a public comment period, during which members of the public can voice their opinions on this important issue to the USDA. "The Truthful Labeling Coalition will weigh-in with strong support for the proposal," said Charles Hansen. "We urge American consumers and health experts to do the same."

The proposed rule was posted today on the FSIS website (http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/rdad/FRPubs/2010-0012.pdf) and soon will be published in the Federal Register.

"Saltwater-Enhanced" chicken by the Numbers:

  • Directly out of the package, a single serving of "saltwater-enhanced" chicken may contain over 440 mg of sodium - almost 20% of the 2,300 mg limit recommended for a healthy adult. For the millions of Americans on a sodium-restricted diet - that one serving of saltwater-enhanced chicken can be over half of their daily limit!
  • In addition to all that extra sodium, American consumers are unknowingly spending a huge amount of their hard-earned grocery dollars on unwanted saltwater. Government estimates are that consumers spend over $2 billion per year buying saltwater at chicken prices.

Committed to the truthful labeling of fresh chicken, the TLC has led an aggressive campaign to urge the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to allow only 100 percent natural chicken, with no additives such as saltwater or seaweed extract, to be labeled as "100% All Natural," and has championed the requirement that all added ingredients be prominently displayed on the label. The Truthful Labeling Coalition (TLC) is a coalition of truly natural chicken producers and over thirty thousand grassroots citizens in all fifty states. In 2008, the Coalition successfully fought USDA-approved labels that falsely claimed that the poultry had been "Raised Without Antibiotics." For more information or to join the TLC's efforts, go to http://www.truthfullabeling.org.

SOURCE Truthful Labeling Coalition