New Labels Reveal Where Your Meat Was Born, Raised and Killed

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New U.S. Department of Agriculture rules require more specific information on certain cuts of meat.

Meat cuts such as steaks and roasts will begin carrying a label that identifies where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. Ground meat is excluded from the new regulations.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has required the country of origin to be listed on seafood since 2005 and meat since 2009, The Associated Press says. But now, rather than saying “Product of U.S. and Canada,” a package will offer more specifics about the animal’s life and death.

The new rules, which apply to beef and pork, have upset Canada and Mexico, which earlier had complained to the World Trade Organization that country-of-origin labeling, known as COOL, put their livestock at a disadvantage because of all the paperwork involved. The WTO agreed.

So, why does the new labeling require even more information? Explains The Washington Post:

By making the labeling more specific, the United States appears to be addressing
the WTO’s concern that the record keeping required under the previous rules was
too onerous given the meager amount of information it gave consumers. The new
rules, which cite more information, better justify the record keeping required,
at least according to the American view.

Some in the meat and grocery industries are also unhappy about the new rules, seeing extra expense and hassle but little added value for consumers. The rules could cost as much as $192 million to implement, according to USDA estimates.

The National Grocers Association, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (the group behind “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner”) and meatpacker Cargill all voiced opposition.

Others support the changes, including farmers’ organizations, and consumer and environmental groups, AP says.

It may be a little while before you see the new labels. Companies are allowed to use up their old printed labels first.

Stacy Johnson

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