WASHINGTON, D.C. – We should know where our meat comes from, says Sentor Chuck Grassley, after the World Trade Organization ruled again that U.S. regulations that display on labels where meat originates from discriminates against Canada and Mexico.
In June 2012, the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) affirmed an earlier WTO Panel decision finding that the United States’ Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements for certain meat commodities discriminated against Canadian and Mexican livestock imports and thus were inconsistent with the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade. The United States had until May 23, 2013, to come into compliance with the WTO ruling in COOL.
On May 23, 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a final rule to modify the labeling provisions for muscle cut commodities covered under the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) program.
“USDA remains confident that these changes will improve the overall operation of the program and also bring the mandatory COOL requirements into compliance with U.S. international trade obligations,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
The final rule modified the labeling provisions for muscle cut covered commodities to require the origin designations to include information about where each of the production steps (i.e., born, raised, slaughtered) occurred and removes the allowance for commingling of muscle cuts.
Country of Origin Labeling is a labeling law that requires retailers, such as full-line grocery stores, supermarkets, and club warehouse stores, notify their customers with information regarding the source of certain foods. Food products, (covered commodities) contained in the law include muscle cut and ground meats: beef, veal, pork, lamb, goat, and chicken; wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish; fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables; peanuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts; and ginseng.
However, the World Trade Organization compliance panel ruled Monday that Country of Origin Labeling still discriminate and must be abandoned or changes. Canadian officials say County of Origin Labeling has resulted in Canadian imports to the U.S. being halved.
“I’m a supporter of Country of Origin Labeling,” Chuck Grassley said Monday. “People, now more than ever, want to know where their food comes from. We know where our T-shirts come from. We should know where our meat comes from. After two negative findings from the WTO, with the second WTO ruling saying that the revised rule from the U.S. Department of Agriculture was actually worse than the original rule, it’s likely time for Congress to go back to the drawing board. Country of Origin Labeling needs to be written and implemented clear of any trade distorting principles. As a member of the world trading community, we have an obligation to be trade compliant, even if we disagree with the rulings.”