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FYI...

February 7, 2014

What to read into nutrition labels on raw meat

(Continued)

The label must provide calories, grams of total fat and saturated fat based on the serving size. Ground or chopped meat or poultry that contains a lean percentage statement must now also list the percentage of fat in the product to allow for easier product comparisons. Manufacturers can voluntarily offer more information.

On packaged raw meat and poultry products, the nutrition facts are listed based on the product's raw weight. The serving size for nearly all raw meat and poultry products is four ounces. However, if the raw product was formed into patties, then the serving size would be the raw weight of each patty - for example, three ounces.

Here's a rule of thumb to translate from raw to cooked portions of meats and poultry. Dubost suggests that for meats, it's reasonable to estimate you'll lose about a quarter of the weight in cooking. So four ounces of raw meat with no bones will serve up roughly three ounces cooked. Dubost's estimate is corroborated by an evaluation of cooking yields for meats and poultry by the USDA's Nutrient Data Laboratory in late 2012.

To estimate the weight of cooked meat or poultry with bone in it, say a T-bone steak or chicken legs, figure you'll lose another ounce. So, four ounces raw with bones will result in two ounces cooked.

Do figure on variation based on several factors: cut of meat, amount of fat, whether it contains bones or skin, preparation method and how well you cook it. For example, a four-ounce raw portion of lean meat grilled to rare will lose less weight than if that steak had more fat on it and was cooked well done.

So what about that cut of red meat or burger you order in a restaurant? Menus typically refer to a raw weight, not the weight of the food served to you. This is based on an industry standard, not a regulation.

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