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Food Safety News

Breaking news for everyone's consumption

Mandatory Country-of-Origin Meat Labeling Now In Effect

As of Saturday, Nov. 23, the labels on some grocery store meat will now be required to indicate from where it came.

While the rules is being contested in court by meat industry stakeholders and the governments of Canada and Mexico, mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) on meat requires that retailers identify the specific country where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered.

The labeling rule covers muscle cuts of beef, chicken, pork, lamb and goat. Processed, deli, and ground meats are exempt.

Oral arguments against the rule are scheduled for Jan. 9, 2014, in federal court.

Labels have previously only been required to list the countries through which the meat passed. The new label rules require more specificity, such as “Born in Canada, raised and slaughtered in the U.S.” The new rule also disallows less-specific mixed-origin labels such as “Product of the U.S. and Canada.”

Proponents of COOL say that consumers have a right to know where their fresh meat originates. The U.S. meat industry largely opposes the rule, saying it invites international sanctions against trading meat with the U.S., as U.S. customers would possibly shy away from foreign-raised meat.

Canada and Mexico, two of the biggest importers of meat to the U.S., have also challenged the law through the World Trade Organization.

© Food Safety News
  • John Munsell

    I want to know if meat in the retail counter originated from China, which I will avoid like the plague. Thus, the statement above “The US meat industry largely opposes the rule………as US customers would possibly shy away from foreign-raised meat” is certainly true. The word “shy”, used to describe my reaction to Chinese food, is an understatement. I fully trust Canadian-sourced meat, while distrusting meat of Mexican origin. All consumers have preferences, and I must admit I prefer meat sourced from America. Is that disloyal? Well, to WTO, yes. I didn’t realize that WTO has the right to mandate USA policies and law. John Munsell

    • jime382002

      The meat we consume was born,raised and slaughtered in ND and always will be. I do not buy from grocery stores.

    • carollucas

      Big mistake to trust Canadian-sourced meat….the CFIA does not and will not do a proper job of regulating food…Gerry Ritz is only for the side that brings in the money and any complaints are ignored.. and now that the Health Minister is in charge this might…and might is the important word…change…now they are talking about CO2 added to the meat…so rotten and browning meat would appear red…so you will not really know how old the meat you are eating is.

  • Theresa Sweeney Palladino

    I would also prefer to have the location and name of the slaughterhouse on the label as well as Dr. Temple Grandin’s approval of such facility . Seeing this information on all labels would make my purchasing decisions much easier . Knowing animals are treated in a humane manner from birth to death is important to me as a consumer.

    • ELICEC

      It would be so easy to print the address of the farm where the meat was raised, and where it was butchered. Same thing with honey. I want to know where my money is going. Do you remember the pepper scare, when we had so many tomatoes and peppers pulled from the shelves? With an “origin label”, we would have known in an hour which facility was at fault, and we would not have had so many containers of tomatoes thrown away.
      The problem is: they WANT to be able to lie to us … allegedly for our own good.

  • Buddy Smith

    COOL- does nothing to improve beef!!!!
    It (COOL) only adds costs to the consumer by adding up in more processing costs!!! COOL does add people to the payrole of inspectors! How many people think beef is cheep now? Just wait until COOL goes into effect!

    • ELICEC

      What do you call “improvements”? making it healthier? No, it does not, and it was not sold as a way to improve the healthiness of beef today..(In the long run, it may, though, because people may vote with their wallets, an opportunity that is denied us now.
      Making it cheaper then?No: Not that either: I only want to know where the meat comes from: The label of origine neither adds to or substract from, the final cost of the product.
      There is no more “processing cost” by adding the address of the farm to the label: A label needs to be put on the meat anyways: Why not have the origin? What are they trying to hide? The shortcuts they have made to quality.
      As far as adding the number of inspectors on the payroll, wrong again: It is the responsibility of the meat producer/ packer to make sure that there is a label. It takes LESS effort to find out the origin of a product by READING the label that is ALREADY AFFIXED TO THE PRODUCT than engage in detective work, calling the grocery store, who will refer you to the slaughter house, who will refer you to the transportation dude, who will refer you to the original farmer, especially when we are talking dates and lot numbers that also have to be sorted out.

  • M Ildiko Mester

    great info! good to know!!!

  • Christine E.

    Great start, but why on earth would processed, deli and ground meat be exempt?? That is the most dubious in origin of all.

    • ELICEC

      Right on, Christine.In part, it is a way to keep a secure share off the market for themselves: If these are excluded, all the pink slime will go in processed food / deli cuts. And yes! that is the most dubious origin of all!

  • GKWilly

    Why is it only some meat that must be labeled? And which some is it?

  • Jane Peters

    This is good news. And we the consumers have the right to know where our food comes from. After all, what does meat industry have to hide?

    • dave

      Antibiotics to make the animals fatter! Superbugs!

    • ELICEC

      Plenty! All the meat raised in CAFOs is supercharged with antibiotics. So WE end up being full of antibiotics, and before too long, the antibiotics are not strong enough to fight the superbugs, so … easy remedy: we double the dose!

  • Sandra

    I am less concerned about where the animal was born (with the exception of China). I am much more concerned about where it was raised and slaughtered, more specifically what it was fed, how it was housed, and how it met its end…If meats were labeled as the one above, I probably not buy it because it is probaby not fit to eat. Not because it was born in Mexico (bravo to Mexico for ending GMO corn in their country!) but the US part scares me. I never thought it would come to this. Thank God I’ve moved to France where there is still a sane approach to making money off farming.

  • dave

    Since co-ops send chicken to China for cheaper processing and this chicken is sent back to us, this chicken will read that the country of origin is the USA. There is no way in knowing if some of this chicken was grown in China and incorporated in with this lot as it has been done in the past. Maybe DNA can tell, but will it be tested?


    the statement:”The U.S. meat industry largely opposes the rule, saying it invites international sanctions against trading meat with the U.S., as U.S. customers would possibly shy away from foreign-raised meat.” doesn’t make sense: International sanctions don’t work that way: Yes, they may be pissed that we are labeling their meat, but they can also label ours. If we purchase less Chinese meat, that is our right, just like it is their right to purchase less US meat. (For all you know, they are ALREADY doing that, and China has been known to use stiff import tariffs to protect their communist regime.) So that argument is full of baloney.
    What is less in doubt is that our alfalfa has been REFUSED entry in Europe because of GMOs and so has our corn, twice this year alone. In both situations, it was products that were not labeled as GMOs that contained some GMOs through contamination: The American farmer did not know that his crop had been contaminated, and that was a very REAL LOSS to the farmers of this country.
    And don’t get ma started on Chinese honey that was imported in this country as real honey, yet contained a very high proportion of CORN SYRUP.
    COOL is there to make that more difficult.

  • Curt

    There are reasons to “shy away” from foreign-raised meat! Well Duh! The US of A. sends 170,000 horses to be slaughtered in Canada and Mexico each year. Horses that are laden with over 100 drugs that are banned from animals meant for human consumption.
    We don’t test for Phenylbutazone that is a carcinogen or other drugs that are very dangerous to our health. And they don’t DNA test for species in our meat. What could go wrong?

  • Curt

    In 2011 Canada imported 89,399 US horses for slaughter. The average hanging weight (the weight of meat after slaughter) was 619 lbs that is 27,668 tons of horse meat. Canada exported 15,406 tons of horse meat to the European Union and other countries. Canadians consumed 330 tons of horse meat. Canada exported (official export) to the US of 547 tons. That leaves 11,315 tons of horse meat. Where is it? That is 40% of the total US exports to Canada is missing. Or is it mixed in our ground beef?

  • Winnie Frank

    It’ll be a frosty Friday before I eat any chicken processed in China. I’ve allready had to cut back on fish as much of it is farm raised there, e.g. Basa (Chinese catfish). I may have to become a vegetarian if it gets any worse.