Sean Morrow
April 06, 2013 6:00 am

Apparently, some people find meat confusing. I don’t; I find meat delicious.

It took scientists two years to find out that the labels on packages of fresh cuts of pork and beef are confusing to consumers. The new research means meat names will be changing.

Meat confusing people is confusing, but the National Pork Board explains: “One of our biggest challenges has been the general belief among consumers that a pork chop is a pork chop,” said the pork representative, who is a human, not a pig, “but not all pork chops are equal, and not all pork chops are priced equally.”

Confusingly specific things like “beef shoulder top blade steak,” and confusingly generic  things like “pork chop,” will be rebranded as the names of things you can get in restaurants like “flatiron steak” and… “pork chop.”

The change will hopefully lead to less confused consumers, and will replace an older voluntary system of naming. The new labels will also include information on what part of the animal comes from (note: a pork loin is not a pig’s wiener, and if you ask, the butcher will make fun of you to all his butcher friends). Will you be less likely to eat a steak if you know exactly what part of the cow the steak comes from? I won’t–I’ve come to terms with the horridness involved in my consuming of flesh–but some might come to the sudden realization of what they’ve been doing all these years and steer clear of meat. Would you?

I’ve heard before that some people consider it more ethical to be more connected to an animal you plan on eating. Some would say that it’s okay to eat meat from an animal you killed yourself, but it’s not okay to eat meat from an animal that some factory farm killed for you.

But this isn’t about steering people away from meat–this entire thing was created by the meat industry, so it’s not like the government slapping pictures of diseased lungs on cigarette packages–it’s about informing the consumer better.

Consumer protection is important, but it sometimes goes too far. Meat is confusing? I understand not everyone has access to the same things that I do, but if you have access to a supermarket, you probably have access to the internet, and can do your own research before you purchase something. Right?

Educating consumers is smarter than making decisions for consumers–take a look at NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s silly soda thing (a really dumb political issue; if you honestly think having to buy smaller sodas will change your life, you’re a doofus, but if you think the government should limit soda sizes, you’re also a doofus) which was widely derided. If we just tell people what’s bad for them, they won’t eat it, and if they do, they’ve created their own problem, no? I should check my privilege: I grew up in an environment where knowledge about health was readily available.

Labeling meat in new ways will allow for people to know more about what they are putting in their bodies, and that’s a good thing.

The chicken industry, known for their resistance to change, will be keeping their naming regulations. What a bunch of chickens! Oh my God, I’m so sorry for that.

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