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Canada Returns Country of Origin Labeling Rule to WTO

Canada wants the World Trade Organization to appoint a compliance panel for the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) rule.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in May said meat labels need to list where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. The changes were brought about by WTO rulings that largely went against the U.S. on COOL.

But Canada and Mexico are not satisfied with U.S. revisions that were supposedly designed to bring it into WTO compliance. The meat industry in the U.S. also does not like the changes.

Several industry groups are suing USDA on commercial free-speech grounds, saying there is no compelling government reason for requiring the information on the label.

Canada has threatened to impose retaliatory tariffs in response to the new labeling requirements, but has also said it will not act without WTO approval. Both Canada and Mexico say the U.S. labeling will unfairly cause consumers to shun beef coming from their countries.

“Canada considers that the United States has failed to bring its COOL measure into conformity with its WTO obligations,” said International Trade Minister Ed Fast and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz in a joint statement. “We believe that the recent amendments to the COOL measure will further hinder the ability of Canadian cattle and hog producers to freely compete in the U.S. market.

The new rules prohibit the co-mingling of most muscle cuts from different countries in the same package. That provision is said to harm Canadian beef and ham producers at border processing plants.

© Food Safety News
  • Oginikwe

    If there’s no COOL labeling on something, we don’t buy it.