WASHINGTON –The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says the recent nutrition labeling legislation relating to beef products is a bitter sweet development. While officials were pleased to see the US Department of Agriculture moving forward with publishing a final rule in the Federal Register on Dec. 29, 2010, Kristina Butts, NCBA executive director of legislative affairs, said the association would have preferred if USDA would have allowed more time than 12 months to implement this rule.

Based on comments submitted by NCBA, cattle producers support including all nutrients found in beef to be placed on the label. “We believe this information is helpful in educating the public on the important contribution beef makes to a healthy diet,” she said.

She added although NCBA believes consumers have the right to know what nutrients are found in meat, it also realizes retailers and others in the food-production chain will face significant new costs associated with this final rule. “We wish USDA would have granted our request for an 18-24 month implementation period, and will continue our longstanding history of working with retailers, consumers and USDA on the implementation of the rule,” she said.

She added NCBA is hopeful USDA will work with industry to find the least disruptive and most cost-effective way to implement the rule.

“US cattlemen and women are committed to meeting consumer demand for nutritious, affordable, high-quality and safe beef products,” she continued. “It has taken nearly 20 years to reach this point, but we are pleased USDA is moving forward with this rule to provide consumers with beef nutrition information. NCBA will continue efforts to educate consumers about the nutritional profile of beef products to help them make educated purchasing decisions. For more than 20 years, cattle producers have supported informing and educating consumers of the nutritional profile of beef and NCBA has become a trusted leader on this issue.”

She pointed out that in the 1980s, the beef industry joined with other stakeholders in the meat industry to form the Nutrition Labeling Coalition for Meat and Poultry to support transparent nutrition labeling and developed the original Nutri Facts program long before nutrition labeling was required even on a voluntary basis.

“We look forward to working with all stakeholders on the implementation of this rule,” she concluded.