Meat packaging changes are coming

Staff writer

Britin Fraiser wanted to make beef stroganoff for dinner, but there was just one problem: he couldn’t find beef tips at the grocery store.

“I couldn’t find any,” the 86-year-old Hillsboro resident said. “I was about ready to give up and then I asked the guy standing next to me if he saw any, and he picked a package up right away. I could have sunk right into the floor — so embarrassing. I was looking for the package to say beef tips, not sirloin tips.”

Fraiser is one of the many American consumers, who struggle to find the right cut of meat at the grocery store. In an effort to minimize the confusion, the United States Department of Agriculture is moving toward implementing globalized standards for meat packaging.

Secretary Tom Vilsack believes this move will increase efficiency at the meat counter, cutting down the time an individual will spend questioning whether they have the correct cut for their meal. The new standards will change the packaging label to include the type of meat on the first line and the cut on the second.

Many local consumers however, like Richard Stulen of Marion, don’t understand the benefit of this change.

“I grew up in agriculture,” Stulen said. “When I was in FFA, they taught us all about the different cuts of meat. Important lessons, like ‘Everyone knows that the best cuts come from the rear end.’ I’ve bought meat with that knowledge for 42 years. Now, they’re trying to add something new. Personally, I think it is just another excuse to get rid of ag in the school system. The government doesn’t want kids to know where their food comes from.”

Luke Strait of Burns said he doesn’t know why anyone would struggle to find the cut they need when the local grocery stores are so helpful.

“There is a chart usually hanging up that shows you what each cut is called and what it looks like,” he said. “You’d have to be pretty dumb to not just take the few extra seconds to look over at the chart, see what it is you want to cook and grab the right cut off the shelf. If people are going to be that loony, I might as well sign up to become president.”

The USDA plans to implement the new standard along with the new farm bill in Fiscal Year 2014-2015.

 

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