The U.S. meat industry is renaming about 350 cuts of meat to make labels more consumer-friendly and less anatomically-focused, marking the first major overhaul of industry nomenclature in 40 years.
Two years of consumer research by industry groups showed that the labeling of certain cuts in the grocery store were confusing to shoppers, said Trevor Amen, director of market intelligence for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in Denver. Under the old naming model, established in the 1970s, package labels were lengthy and anatomically-based, he said.
The changes are “about eliminating some of those meat-industry butcher terms that may be confusing or unappealing,” Amen said in a telephone interview today. “We just really want to make it simplified for the consumer when they’re shopping.”
For example, the cut of meat previously called “beef bottom round heel side boneless” will be labeled “merlot steak” under the new order. A “pork loin center rib sliced bone-in” will be called a “ribeye roast.”
The new labeling recommendations include a common name first, such as “porterhouse steak,” followed by characteristics, such as “beef, loin bone-in,” and then preparation instructions, including “grill for best results.” Consumers may see the new labels in stores within the next several months, Amen said. Meat demand tends to rise in the warmer summer months of June, July and August as consumers grill outdoors.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and Agriculture Marketing Service were kept informed of the changes.
“USDA is definitely in support of this new standard because it should equate to more consumer-friendly names for the meat,” Sam Jones-Ellard, a spokesman for the USDA AMS, said in a telephone interview.
The updated nomenclature to the Uniform Retail Meat Identification Standards, known as URMIS, were approved by the Industry-Wide Cooperative Meat Identification Standards Committee, a board of professionals in the retail, meat and packing sectors, on March 27, Amen said. While the naming is voluntary, the majority of food retailers use the method, he said.