April 26, 2018

COOL Coalition Supports Integrity of Labeling

The Consumer Federation of America is one of 229 consumer groups that wrote a letter to USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack, asking him to protect the integrity of Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements for meat. ┬áThe 2008 Farm Bill included mandatory COOL provisions for beef, pork, poultry, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables and some nuts, but Canada and Mexico mounted a legal challenge to the measure.┬áThe coalition wants a regulatory fix because “the U.S. can preserve its sovereignty while simultaneously improving the accuracy of information conveyed to consumers,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard, one of the signers of the letter.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) sided with Canada and Mexico in 2011, saying that the measure is a barrier to free trade that violates agreements the United States has with several other countries. Consumer groups, such as the Consumer Federation of America, believe that consumers have the right to know where their food comes from. The Obama administration appealed the ruling last April, but the WTO ruled against them again. That body stated that the way the U.S. labeled the foods wasn’t specific enough.

More than 20 state legislatures are considering bills that require more information about how food is produced and is labeled. The COOL coalition says that “the only acceptable way to respond to the WTO challenge is to make labels more informative for consumers, not water them down. U.S. farmers and ranchers are proud of what they produce and should be allowed to promote their products. consumers deserve clear, direct, and informative labels.” Some of the groups which signed the letter include the Center for Food Safety, Food & Water Watch, Farm Aid, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, and Public Citizen.

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