WASHINGTON – The US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced a two-month delay (until March 1, 2012) regarding the effective start date for enforcing the Nutrition Labeling of Single-Ingredient Products and Ground or Chopped Meat and Poultry Products final rule. This delay is in response to a request from coalition industries that will be affected by the final rule to ensure they have time to properly and correctly implement the newly required nutrition labels.

The coalition includes the American Lamb Board; the American Meat Institute; the Food Marketing Institute; the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; the National Chicken Council; the National Grocers Association; the National Pork Board; the National Pork Producers Council; and the National Turkey Federation.

"The mandatory nutrition labeling rule will have a significant impact on the regulated entities, and we commend FSIS for recognizing the challenges we face and for extending the effective date," a coalition statement said. “When FSIS announced this final rule last December, we began working to understand the new requirements to ensure implementation,” the statement added. “Over the past 11 months, we have worked with FSIS to fully understand the rule’s requirements, but we still have questions that need to be answered before a smooth implementation can occur.”

While the coalition said it supports efforts to educate consumers about the nutritional profile of meat and poultry products, it iterated it is crucial to get it right.

“Delaying the effective date for two months will give retailers and others in the food production chain additional time to implement labeling systems, to obtain necessary software and scales to properly label the products and to educate employees about the new requirements. We look forward to continuing to work with FSIS over the next five months to find the least disruptive and most cost-effective way to implement the rule,” the statement concluded.