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Revision to pork grade standards open for comment

Organizations want to stop mandatory country of origin labeling
The current pork standards were last revised in 1985 and are no longer considered by the industry to reflect the value differences in today’s pork products.

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service today invited public comment on the proposed revision to the U.S. Standards for Grades of Pork Carcasses. The proposed revision would assist pork producers and processors by better aligning the grades with consumer expectations.

USDA Grade Standards, like the standards for pork, allow producers, businesses and consumers to identify a commodity by uniform groups of similar quality, yield or value — helping facilitate the fair marketing of U.S. agricultural products. AMS works with stakeholders to establish and revise U.S. grade standards for nearly 240 agricultural products.

With the goal of driving stronger demand for pork as it benefits the entire pork supply chain — from pig farmers to packers, to retailers and foodservice operators, the National Pork Board issued the following statement on the Voluntary Standards for Pork Carcass Grades:

“To grow demand, our industry needs to better define what quality looks like and maintain our focus on developing a consistent eating experience.

“America’s pig farmers produce a flavorful product and the Pork Checkoff’s long-term research studies have demonstrated how to improve upon it. The pork loin is the primal that most often suffers from a quality challenge and consequently faces chronic low prices. Consumer research suggests a more consistent eating experience with the loin — supported by a balance of the proper cut name, the ideal end-point cooking temperature and the quality attributes of color and marbling — will create higher consumer value. Better understanding these attributes will only serve to increase pork consumption in the long term.”

When there is a need, AMS considers changes to its official grade standards to ensure they continue to serve their intended purpose. Over the last several years, extensive research on pork quality, consumer preferences and other factors affecting the marketing of domestic pork provided the basis for the proposed revision.

The current pork standards were last revised in 1985 and are no longer considered by the industry to reflect the value differences in today’s pork products. The proposed change would allow industry to once again utilize the grade standards as a meaningful tool for communicating pork quality between buyers and sellers.

The proposed revision appeared in the Oct. 23 Federal Register. Comments may be posted online at, submitted by email to [email protected], or sent to Pork Carcass Revisions, Standardization Branch, Quality Assessment Division; Livestock Poultry and Seed Program, AMS, USDA; 1400 Independence Ave., SW.; Room 3932-S, STOP 0258; Washington, D.C. 20250-0258.

Comments received will be posted without change, including any personal information provided. All comments should reference the docket number (AMS-LPS-17-0046), the date of submission and the page number of the issue of the Federal Register.

Comments must be received by Dec. 22.

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