July 24, 2024

WTO Rules Against COOL. Again.

The World Trade Organization released its compliance panel reports on the United States “country of origin labeling” (COOL) disputes Monday, and ruled against the United States. WTO found that “the amended COOL measure violates Article 2.1 of the TBT Agreement because it accords to Canadian and Mexican livestock less favourable treatment than that accorded to like US livestock.”

Label on MeatsThe ruling states that COOL has a “detrimental impact” on competitive opportunities of imported livestock because it necessitates “increased segregation of meat and livestock according to origin.” WTO also states that the labels place a higher record keeping burden on imported meats, and increases the potential for label inaccuracy.

Consumer advocates, including Center for Food Safety, are disappointed by this ruling and believe that consumers have the right to know where the food they buy comes from. Colin O’Neil, Government affairs Director at CFS said in a statement, “food safety must always be our number one priority, and we will work with partners to defend the law. Consumers have the right to know food origins. COOL helps people make safe, healthy food choices, and allows them to support local farmers and ranchers.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit confirmed COOL in July 2014, stating that the government is fully within its rights to make corporations provide basic information to consumers about food, such as production origins.

Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch, said, “The WTO’s continued assault against commonsense food labels is just another example of how corporate-controlled trade policy undermines the basic protections that U.S. consumers deserve. The United States should appeal the ruling and continue to fight for sensitive consumer safeguards at the supermarket. The meatpacking lobby has lost the COOL debate from the court of public opinion to the Court of Appeals to the halls of Congress so they are taking their complaint to the faceless unelected bureaucrats in Geneva. When the meat lobby┬ácannot get its way here in America, it is trying to use the WTO to overturn the will of the American people.”

This is the second time WTO has ruled against COOL. The Canadian hog and cattle industries say that COOL has cost them hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue. If the United States keeps COOL, the Canadian government may place tariffs on U.S. imports. COOL labels enjoy overwhelming consumer and farmer support in the U.S.


  1. Paul Richter MD says

    As a consumer of foods in the USA, I try to be proactive in my selection of foods by checking their origin. A ruling prohibiting that, is potentially a major detriment in trying to protect ourselves from being poisoned or otherwise harmed by foods which do not have rigorous and reliable checks on quality.
    Just remember the dog die off a year or so ago due to tainted food-the same is happening or can happen with human food.
    Just read the food poisoning bulletins.

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