New USDA rules will require calorie counts on the labels of beef, poultry, pork and lamb.
I'm no food snob: I'm as enthusiastic about Popeyes as I am about the omakase dinner at Masa. But when chain restaurants started posting nutritional information in New York City a couple years ago, I definitely thought twice before ordering certain items.
And now, even the meat you buy at the market won't be exempt from the calorie counts—the Department of Agriculture recently announced that nutrition labels will be mandatory on commonly purchased cuts of beef, poultry, pork and lamb beginning January 1, 2012. "People will be quite shocked at the calories and fat," nutrition expert Marion Nestle said of the new requirement.
I certainly was when I looked up how many calories my favorite cut of steak, a 16-oz. ribeye, would have: up to 1,540, not including sides and the herbed butter I would most likely have slathered on it—easily more than the 1,900 calories I should be consuming a day.
Will this make me reconsider my supermarket choices? Maybe, depending on how hungry I am. But another part of me isn't happy about the grocery store guilt tripping. It's one thing for restaurant chains to publish nutritional information when there are secret sauces and industrial fryolators involved. How else will diners know the specifics of what they're consuming? But I'm not sure I need the calorie cops following me into my kitchen.
How do you feel about nutritional labels on meat? Will it make you change your grocery shopping habits?
CLARISSA CRUZ is the Fashion Features Editor of O, The Oprah Magazine. She is the former Style Editor of People magazine and has written for Entertainment Weekly, InStyle, Food & Wine, and Budget Travel. @clarissanyc1