December 13, 2018

Canada: Proposed US Country Of Origin Labeling Rule “Unfair”

Canada is crying foul over the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) proposed change to Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements for muscle cuts of meat. The proposed rule would require location information about each step in the production of muscle cuts of meat such as where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. It would also remove the allowance for “commingling of muscle cuts.”

Label on MeatsThe proposed change comes in response to a June 2012 ruling by the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) which affirmed an earlier WTO Panel finding that the US COOL requirements for certain meat cuts discriminated against Canadian and Mexican livestock imports, putting the US out of compliance with WTO rules. The US has until May 23, 2013, to come into compliance.

“USDA expects that these changes will improve the overall operation of the program and also bring the current mandatory COOL requirements into compliance with U.S. international trade obligations,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, said in a statement. But his Canadian counterpart disagrees.

“Our Government is extremely disappointed with the proposed regulatory changes put forward by the United States today with respect to Country of Origin Labeling,” Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in a statement. “We do not believe that the proposed changes will bring the United States into compliance with its WTO obligations. The proposed changes will increase the discrimination against exports of cattle and hogs from Canada and increase damages to Canadian industry. Our Government will consider all options, including retaliatory measures, should the U.S. not achieve compliance by May 23, 2013, as mandated by the WTO. We will continue to stand with Canadian cattle and hog producers against unfair Country of Origin Labeling in the U.S.”

Last fall, an E. coli outbreak in Canada was linked to meat produced by XL Foods of Canada. The outbreak triggered the largest food recall in Canadian history, millions of pounds of ground beef and muscle cuts distributed in the US and Canada were recalled.

The proposed COOL rule appears in today’s issue of the Federal Register. Comments will be received  until April 11, 2013.

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