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Photograph: Jeremy Handrup

Government-issued meat

Is U.S.G.I. meat government issued?

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Q I just noticed an advert in the Hyde Park Herald for a grocery store selling government-issued meat. Can that be sold in the private sector? And how did the store get it? It’s crazy cheap!—MS, Ukrainian Village

A When it comes to things like canteens and M-16 rifles, U.S.G.I. stands, of course, for “United States government issue.” But for turkey drumsticks, pork roasts and ground beef—all proudly advertised by Hyde Park Village Foods as “U.S.G.I.”—the initialism means “United States government inspected.” It’s easy to get confused, especially when you take into account that during down economic times in the 1980s and ’90s, Uncle Sam handed out blocks of pre-sliced processed cheese to welfare recipients. With the unemployment rate still hovering between nine and ten percent, we can only imagine government-issued chicken breasts aren’t far from Americans’ dinner plates.

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