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      Beef. It's what's for dinner...and now it's labeled

      A new law passed by the USDA requires nutritional labels to be put on all ground beef and ground poultry products.

      The labels include the amount of calories, protein and saturated fat. Previously, the USDA only required labels to be on beef and poultry products that had added ingredients.

      In 1990, an act was passed requiring labels to be put on all items except beef. Market Street United was among the 60 percent of vendors who voluntarily displayed the nutritional facts of the beef even though it was not required by law.

      "It gives them the information they need," Market Street United Meat Department Manager Dennis Irlbeck said, "whether they want to buy 80 percent ground beef or 93 percent, or a choice piece of meat or a select piece of meat because everything changes between grades and leanness and the fat content."

      Now, whether it be on the package or in a brochure, consumers will know the exact nutritional value of their favorite cut of meat.

      "This is really just an effort to give consumers additional information," Texas AgriLife Beef Cattle Nutritionist Jim MacDonald stated, "so that when they're at the store making their purchase, they can use, you know, 'Do I want a really flavorful cut of meat that has a little more calories in it or do I want a really lean cut of meat to cut those calories down per serving?'"

      Some meat vendors do not yet have the labels.

      "Right now, those small processors are exempt from the ruling," MacDonald said. "So, if they go into one of those locations and products aren't labeled or they don't have a sign up like they do in the grocery store, they're not breaking any rules at this point. The FSIS is giving them more time because some of those locations are very rural."

      The labels come at no extra charge to consumers.