Made in the USA? Proposed Rule Clarifies Grocery Meat Labels

Jonel Aleccia wrote . . . . . . . . .

Shoppers could soon find it easier to tell if those grocery store steaks or pork chops were really “Made in the USA.”

Federal agriculture officials on Monday released new requirements that would allow labels on meat, poultry or eggs to use that phrase — or “Product of USA” — only if they come from animals “born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the United States.” That’s a sharp change from current policy, which allows voluntary use of such labels on products from animals that have been imported from a foreign country and slaughtered in the U.S., but also on meat that’s been imported and repackaged or further processed.

Imports of beef from countries including Australia, Canada and Brazil, for instance, account for about 12% of the total consumed in the U.S. Overall, imports of red meat and poultry account for less than 6%, while imports of eggs account for less than half of 1%.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the proposed rule would better align the labels with consumers’ views. A survey commissioned by the USDA found that nearly two-thirds of shoppers believed that a “Product of USA” label meant that most or all meat production steps occurred in the U.S.

“There’s obviously a disconnect between what the consumers’ understandings and expectations are and what the label currently is,” Vilsack said in an interview.

About 12% of all meat, poultry and egg products sold in the country carry the U.S.-origin labels, USDA officials said.

The label change was first proposed by President Joe Biden in 2021 and was included last year in a series of steps to bolster the U.S. meat and poultry supply chain.

The USDA survey, conducted last summer, included a nationally representative sample of more than 4,800 American adults who do the grocery shopping for their families and who bought beef or pork in the previous six months. More than 40% of the shoppers said they look for the USA label when buying meat.

The rule was praised by consumer advocates and representatives for U.S. ranchers and farmers, including the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, which petitioned the USDA for the label change in 2019.

“The proposed rule finally closes this loophole by accurately defining what these voluntary origin claims mean,” said Justin Tupper, the group’s president. “If it says ‘Made in the USA,’ then it should be from cattle that have only known USA soil. Consumers have the right to know where their food comes from, full stop.”

Thomas Gremillion, director of food policy for the Consumer Federation of America, said the change is a “small but important step” that should have been made long ago.

Under the current rule, Gremillion noted, a cow can be raised in Mexico under that country’s regulations for feed and medications, then shipped across the border and slaughtered that same day to make ground beef and steaks that qualify as “Product of USA.”

Carrie Balkcom, executive director of the trade group American Grassfed Association, said the existing rule also penalizes small domestic producers.

“It’s expensive to raise grass-raised animals from scratch,” Balkcom said. “And these large producers were importing these animals raised elsewhere and just repackaging them and then kind of coasting on the ‘Made in the USA’ label.”

An official with the North American Meat Institute, which represents large firms that process most of the meat and poultry products sold in the U.S., said she hadn’t seen details of the new rule. But Sarah Little added, the group “opposes overly prescriptive labeling requirements that will raise prices for consumers.”

Another industry group, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, has called for eliminating the voluntary USA labels entirely and allowing for strict labeling standards verified by the USDA.

The voluntary labeling rules are different from country-of-origin labels, known as COOL, which required companies to disclose where animals supplying beef and pork are born, raised and slaughtered. That requirement was rolled back in 2015, after international trade disputes and a ruling from the World Trade Organization.

Country-of-origin labels are still required for other foods, including fish, shellfish, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables and more.

Companies won’t have to prove that their products are American-made before using the labels, but they will have to file documentation. The proposal applies only to meat, poultry and eggs, products overseen by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, which can pull the label if companies are found to violate the rule.

The label proposal is open for public comment before it becomes final.

Source: AP






In Pictures: Food of Mizumi (Macau) in Macau, China

Fine Dining Japanese Cuisine

The 2022 Michelin 2-star Restaurant





Vitamin D Might Help You Avoid Dementia

Alan Mozes wrote . . . . . . . . .

Can vitamin D lower dementia risk?

Quite possibly, a team of British and Canadian researchers report.

In their study, investigators spent roughly a decade tracking more than 12,000 older people. None had dementia at the start of the study period. In the end, the team determined that those who had been taking vitamin D supplements during that time appeared to face a 40% lower risk for dementia, compared with those who had never taken the supplements.

Even so, Claire Sexton, senior director of scientific programs and outreach at the Alzheimer’s Association, cautioned that much more research is needed to better understand a possible link between vitamin D and dementia risk.

For one thing, she noted that the study team did not track how much vitamin D supplementation any of the participants took, nor how long they had been taking them. Similarly, overall patient vitamin D levels were never assessed — either at the study launch or conclusion.

In addition, the study was observational, Sexton added, meaning at no point were patients told to take, or not to take, vitamin D. That means the study cannot prove that vitamin D actually causes dementia risk to fall.

Still, study author Dr. Zahinoor Ismail said that fresh evidence of vitamin D’s power against dementia has “great biological plausibility.”

For example, prior research indicates that people with genetic mutations that render them low in vitamin D “have much greater development of Alzheimer’s than those who don’t,” said Ismail, a professor of psychiatry, neurology, epidemiology and pathology with the Hotchkiss Brain Institute and O’Brien Institute for Public Health at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.

Vitamin D, he added, has also been shown to be anti-inflammatory and key to preventing the build-up of both abnormal protein “tangles” and amyloid beta plaque in the brain. Both are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s, with the latter often cited as a likely root cause.

“So, I’m not at all surprised that we found something,” said Ismail.

The study team noted that an estimated 50 million people worldwide now live with some degree of dementia; that figure is projected to triple by 2050.

At the same time, vitamin D deficiency is thought to be a concern among roughly 1 billion people.

To explore the potential protective benefit of vitamin D supplementation among older Americans, the study team focused on thousands of patients who had previously enrolled in one of 40 Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers across the United States.

On average, participants were 71 years of age, and 80% were white. The patient pool included both those with no signs of mental impairment as well as those struggling with so-called mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Out of the entire pool of patients, about 2,700 developed dementia. But the risk appeared to differ in relation to vitamin D habits.

For example, the team found that over the course of the study timeframe, a little less than 4 in 10 had taken vitamin D, and dementia risk in this pool of patients was nearly 15%.

But among the roughly 60% who had never taken vitamin D supplements, that figure shot up to 26%.

And after taking into account a variety of factors — including age, gender, race, depression status and educational background — the team concluded that vitamin D supplementation was linked to a 40% lower risk for dementia, compared with no exposure.

Taking vitamin D was also linked to notably better survival rates, the investigators found.

For example, about 84% of those who had taken vitamin D supplements were still alive five years out from the study launch; that figure dropped to just over 68% among those who had never taken vitamin D.

The findings were published online March 1 in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring, a publication of the Alzheimer’s Association.

The investigators noted that the apparent protective effect of vitamin D was notably stronger among those with no prior mental impairment, compared with those who already had MCI. That suggests that vitamin D supplementation might be most impactful in warding off dementia when started earlier rather than later.

But Ismail said that one of the most important and surprising findings was a sizeable gender gap in vitamin D’s impact on dementia risk. While vitamin D supplementation was linked to a 50% lower dementia risk among women, that figure fell to just 25% among men.

Why? Ismail said it could have to do with plummeting estrogen levels during perimenopause and menopause, given that “estrogen helps to activate vitamin D. So, it could be that women have relatively greater vitamin D deficiency than men, so supplements have a greater effect.”

What are seniors to think? Should vitamin D supplements now figure into everyone’s daily health regimen? No, said Sexton.

Given the “significant limitation[s]” of the latest research, “it is not recommended to start vitamin D supplementation to reduce dementia risk,” she said, though Sexton advised anyone contemplating such a move to “always talk to your health care provider before starting supplements or other dietary interventions, and let them know which ones you are already taking.”

Ismail, who takes vitamin D himself, is more equivocal.

“While vitamin D can do good, it can also do harm,” he acknowledged, highlighting the adverse impact that mega-dosing can have on bone health. “But I would say that if people are going to take it anyway they should do so cautiously,” and always within the recommended dosing limits of a patient’s respective country.

Vitamin D is often referred to as “the sunshine vitamin” because sunlight is one source of this nutrient. In addition, certain types of food, including eggs, fatty fish and seafood can be natural dietary sources of vitamin D. The vitamin is also often added to food staples — such as milk and breakfast cereals.

Source: HealthDay





Charcoal-broiled Lamb Chops


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 oz onion, finely chopped
2/3 cup red wine
scant 1-1/2 cups chili sauce
1/4 cup Worcester sauce
scant 1/4 cup sugar
pinch natural sea salt
pinch black pepper
pinch Herbes de Provence
4 lamb chops, about 4 oz each


  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat and sauté the garlic until lightly browned. Add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent.
  2. Add the red wine, flambé and burn off the alcohol content. When the flame has subsided, add the chili sauce, Worcester sauce, sugar, salt, pepper, and Herbes de Provence. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, pour into a shallow container large enough to accommodate the lamb chops in a single layer and let cool.
  4. When the marinade has cooled, add the lamb chops and marinate for 2 hours.
  5. Wipe off the excess marinade from the lamb chops, grill over charcoal and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Shunju New Japanese Cuisine

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