June 18, 2018

Study Finds COOL Labels Haven’t Affected Livestock Exports

Country of origin labeling (COOL) has been a hot topic in the news for months. The United States wants to label meat products with information about where the animals and processed meat come from, but the World Trade Organization (WTO) has stated over and over again that they believe these steps are potentially harmful to other countries.

Cows in FieldCanada and Mexico filed objections to the labeling, fearing that consumers would not want to buy products from their countries. WTO sided with Canada and Mexico. But a new study¬†from Auburn University shows that COOL laws have not undermined Canada and Mexico’s livestock exports to the U.S. Instead, study author Robert Taylor found that COOL was implemented in 2008 just as the severe United States recession ended demand for expensive meats.

Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch said in a statement, “Canada, Mexico, the meatpacking industry and other business trade associations claims that COOL alone undermined their livestock exports. Canada has put a price tab of $2 billion annually on lost export opportunities. The meatpackers and their allies pretend that the World Trade Organization has given its blessing for $2 billion in COOL tariff penalties, but the figure is based on Canada’s deeply flawed studies that are completely debunked by Professor Taylor’s astute analysis.”

American consumers support COOL labeling because they want to know where the food they eat comes from. Both Canada and Mexico have had serious problems with food safety in the past few years. A huge recall of Canadian beef for E. coli O157:H7 in 2012 and outbreaks caused by imported produce from Mexico are in the consumer consciousness.

The WTO ruled against the United States for the second time last fall, stating that labeling rules unfairly discriminate against meat imports. The U.S. is appealing that decision.

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