MeatLabelingMainSenators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and John Hoeven (R-ND) introduced a bill Thursday that would remove certain meats from the mandatory country-of-origin (COOL) labeling program and institute a voluntary label instead. In May, the World Trade Organization rejected a U.S. appeal of its decision that COOL on meat unfairly discriminates against meat imports and give the advantage to domestic meat products. As a result, the program must be reformed to honor existing trade relations with Canada and Mexico and to avoid retaliatory tariffs. The Stabenow-Hoeven plan would establish a voluntary “Product of the U.S.” label for beef, pork, chicken, and ground meat products that are from animals born, raised, and harvested in the U.S. “If consumers in Canada have the right to know where their food comes from through a voluntary labeling system, then American consumers should have the same,” Stabenow said. “This bill is a path forward and will encourage international trade while giving families peace of mind.” The Voluntary Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and Trade Enhancement Act of 2015 is co-sponsored by Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Thune (R-SD), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Mike Enzi (R-WY). Stabenow offered a draft of the bill on the eve of a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on COOL. When asked whether they would support voluntary labeling, most of the witnesses at the hearing agreed, as long as it was WTO-compliant. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)