The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is making important nutritional information readily available to consumers on 40 of the most popular cuts of meat and poultry products.

A new rule specifies that packages of ground or chopped meat and poultry will feature nutrition fact panels on their labels. Also, whole, raw cuts of meat and poultry will feature nutrition fact panels either on package labels or available for consumers at the point-of-purchase.

“More and more, busy American families want nutrition information that they can quickly and easily understand,” says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We need to do all we can to provide nutrition labels that will help consumers make informed decisions. The USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services work hard to provide the Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years, and now consumers will have another tool to help them follow these guidelines.”

The nutrition fact panels will include the number of calories and the grams of total fat and saturated fat a product contains. Any product that lists a lean percentage statement, such as “76% lean,” on its label will list its fat percentage, making it easier for consumers to understand the amounts of lean protein and fat in their purchase, making it easier for consumers to understand the amounts of lean protein and fat in their purchase.

The goal of the panels is to provide consumers with enough information at the stores to assess the nutrient content of the major cuts, enabling them to select meat and poultry products that fit into a healthy diet.

This rule is effective Jan. 1, 2012. Consumers with questions about the new labels should call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at (888)-MPHotline (888-674-6854).

Producers and retailers seeking more information should contact Rosalyn Murphy-Jenkins, director, Labeling and Program Delivery Division, Office of Policy and Program Development, Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, MD 20705 or by phone (301) 504-0878.