Monday, March 31, 2014

Country of Origin Labeling Requirement for Meat Moves Forward

 The US Court of Appeals is allowing the country of origin labeling requirement (COOL) to move forward despite the challenge by meat producers.

The law will require processors and retailers to list where the animals used in the product were born, raised and slaughtered.

While this will provide information to consumers, there is no doubt it will add costs to the system.  Just are important is that many countries such as Canada and Mexico will look at this as a trade barrier and may inflict retaliatory tactics to US trade.

Are the costs worth it?  Do consumers really care?

U.S. meat groups thwarted in bid to block country-of-origin labels

(Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Friday rejected a challenge by meat producers to a federal regulation that specifies labeling requirements for certain meat products, a move applauded by rancher and consumer groups.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said a 2013 regulation covering the so-called country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for muscle cuts of meat, can be enforced.

The American Meat Institute and related trade associations from the beef and pork sectors had attempted to prevent the rule from taking effect, arguing that COOL raises the cost of meat production.

The rule requires retailers such as grocery stores, supermarkets and warehouse clubs to list not just the country of origin but also information on when and where animals were born, raised and slaughtered. It strengthened the previous 2009 regulation.

"We disagree strongly with the court's decision and believe that the rule will continue to harm livestock producers and the industry with little benefit to consumers," said AMI interim president James Hodges, who said the group was evaluating its options.

Ranchers, who see the labeling law as a way to promote their made-in-the-USA products, were jubilant.

"Our cattle-producing members have worked hard to ensure that COOL is implemented in a way that allows them to highlight beef from their cattle that are born, raised, and slaughtered in the U.S.," said Bob Fortune, president of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association. "We are pleased the court has determined that we have the right to continue doing so."

The labeling will help consumers "make informed choices about the origin and safety of their meat," said Wenonah Hauter, director of the group Food & Water Watch.

Officials representing large meat producers Tyson Foods and Cargill Meat Solutions, which operate two of the largest U.S. beef-packing operations, deferred comment to the AMI.

The case is American Meat Institute v. U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 13-5281. (Reporting by Lawrence Hurley and Ros Krasny in Washington and Theopolis Waters in Chicago; Editing by Howard Goller, Lisa Von Ahn and Meredith Mazzilli)

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