WASHINGTON (Nov. 11, 2011) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced it would delay for two months, until March 1, 2012, the effective date for enforcement of the “Nutrition Labeling of Single-Ingredient Products and Ground or Chopped Meat and Poultry Products” final rule. The announcement was made in response to a request from a coalition of organizations representing food, agriculture and retail associations that will be affected by the final rule to ensure they have time to implement the newly required nutrition labels.

Included in the coalition are the American Lamb Board; 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 coalition issued the following statement in response to FSIS’s announcement to delay the effective date:

“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. When FSIS announced this final rule last December, we began working to understand the new requirements to ensure implementation. 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 we support efforts to educate consumers about the nutritional profile of meat and poultry products, 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.”