The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today it will consider a rulemaking to allow the continued use of the “Product of USA” or “Made in USA” labels on meat from cattle raised abroad. They made one minor change: the cattle must be both slaughtered and processed in the U.S., as opposed to one or the other.
Last October, the United States Cattleman’s Association (USCA) filed a petition asking the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to more tightly regulate these labels. The USDA wrote that the new distinction “will thus result in labels that are truthful and not misleading.” Mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) for beef and pork was repealed by Congress in 2015.
In response, Amanda Starbuck, Policy Expert of Food & Water Action issued the following statement:
“Consumers deserve accurate labels. Giving foreign-raised cattle a “Product of USA” label is the greenwashing of meat trade. USDA is shrugging its shoulders when it comes to misleading consumers, many of whom are interested in purchasing food raised domestically.
“Without mandatory COOL, consumers cannot know where the beef they purchase comes from. Meanwhile, USDA is also rolling out the red carpet to dodgy beef from countries like Brazil that have long histories of food safety violations. Americans are now facing a lethal combination: reckless meat imports without labeling.
“Consumers and ranchers will pay the price for this labeling leniency. As meatpacking giants continue exploiting the “Product of USA” label, our nation’s cattle ranchers will be unable to distinguish their products from those imported from abroad. Food & Water Action urges the USDA to more tightly regulate the “Product of USA” and other labels in order to benefit U.S. consumers and ranchers.”