US poultry processors now have another year to comply with new chicken labelling rules, after the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) agreed to extend yesterday’s [Wednesday] deadline.

Cattle and hog industries had campaigned for years for a reform in the laws governing chicken meat production. In particular, they argued that the ability to sell poultry meat with up to 8% added water weight was unfair when pig and cattle meat is not allowed to contain any extra water.

In 1997, a federal judge agreed with the campaigners and ruled that the USDA must review the standards. Processors were supposed to have complied with the resulting new rules, which included  the disclosure of the water content of raw chicken sold in supermarkets, by yesterday. The new rules also say that processors must reveal whether any added water is due to anti-bacterial treatment.

Once enforced, the labelling requirements are expected to add a penny per pound to chicken’s retail price.

Poultry processors had asked the USDA for a two year delay in the deadline.

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