April 23, 2024

Appeals Court Won’t Rehear COOL Dispute

The fate of country-of-origin labeling (COOL) law took another turn when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rendered a decision not to rehear the dispute. So unless the U.S. Supreme Court takes the case, the USDA rules that producers put information about where meat was raised and slaughtered on labels will stand. But the World Trade Organization disagrees. The countries of Canada and Mexico have sued the United States several times, stating that these labels discriminate against producers in their countries who export meat to America. Canada and Mexico could impose steep tariffs on U.S. exports in retaliation. Consumer and food safety advocates want meat labels to include information about where beef cattle, for instance, are born, raised, and slaughtered … [Read more...]

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." The 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 … [Read more...]

Senators Ask That COOL Not be Weakened

U.S. Senators have sent a bipartisan letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee, asking that efforts to weaken or suspend Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) be rejected while discussing funding for the government for Fiscal Year 2015. COOL was created in response to consumers asking for information about where the meat and seafood they buy comes from. Implementation of COOL has been challenged in international courts for more than five years. The letter states that the Senate shouldn't undermine the U.S. position on this issue by inserting a legislative rider into an Appropriations bill before the World Trade Organization decision on the matter is final. The ruling isn't public yet, but other countries are trying to resist COOL implementation because they think it would hurt their … [Read more...]

Another Flip Flop on COOL

A World Trade Organization (WTO) panel has ruled against the U.S. country-of-origin labeling law, according to the Wall Street Journal. Canada and Mexico are opposed to the labels, since they fear that Americans who see that meat was raised or slaughtered in another country may not buy it. Other parties in this dispute include China, the European Union, India, Brazil, Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Columbia, Guatemala and Mexico. The United States will have 60 days from the date of the report to appeal the decision. The history of COOL (country of origin labeling) has been long and convoluted. The proposed rule would require information about the location of each step in the production of muscle cuts of meat. Where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered would have to be … [Read more...]

U.S. Appeals Court Upholds COOL Labeling Rule

The full U.S. District Court of Appeals rejected the challenge to the USDA's meat labeling rules filed by the meat industry. Those rules are known as country of origin labeling (COOL).  In addition to opposing labeling for economic reasons, the meat industry believes they are being forced to issue statements against their will. A three-panel judge ruled against the meat industry in March 2014 and requested a full court review of the meat industry's First Amendment claims. The court decided that regulations satisfy a government interest to protect consumers. The court stated that Congress has passed mandates for labeling for more than 100 years. The meat industry claims that these labels could drive meat producers out of business if consumers don't want to buy meat that was raised or … [Read more...]

Consumer Groups Applaud Court’s COOL Ruling

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled yesterday that the Country of Origin Labeling on meats can continue. COOL was put into effect last year, but the meat industry filed suit to block it. The court denied a preliminary injunction against COOL, so consumers will be informed about where the meat they buy is grown and produced. Food & Water Watch is one of the groups in favor of the court's decision. Wenonah Hauter, that agency's executive director said in a statement, "The Federal Appeals Court correctly affirmed the legitimate consumer interest in being able to make informed choices about the origin and safety of their meat products. The court recognized that COOL labels should be transparent and informative enough for consumers to make these choices, … [Read more...]

Politicians May Try to Repeal COOL in Farm Bill

A House-Senate conference committee might try to repeal the country of origin labeling law (COOL), as they are working on a final version of the U.S. farm bill. One of those members, Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) said he would support a repeal of the law. Consumer advocates support COOL because consumers have the right to know where the food they are buying was grown, harvested, and processed. COOL laws cover beef, veal, lamp, pork, goat, chicken, farm-raised fish and shellfish, wild fish and shellfish, peanuts, ginseng, pecans, macadamia nuts, and perishable commodities. A coalition of consumer and farm groups that support COOL sent a letter in October to Farm Bill conferees, asking them to keep the law in place. COOL was passed into law in 2008. According to a statement on the USDA … [Read more...]

Consumer Groups Urge Defense of Country of Origin Labeling

The Consumer Federation of America is urging Farm Bill conferees to defend the 2008 Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law for beef, poultry, pork, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, and some nuts. The National Farmers Union, the U.S. Cattleman's Association, and the American Sheep Industry ASsociation joined in urging Congress to ignore a letter from agribusiness that asked Congress to change the law. Chris Waldrop, Director of the Food Policy Institute at Consumer Federation of America said in a statement, "Ninety percent of Americans strongly support mandatory country of origin labeling for fresh meat and, in fact, want even more information about the meat they purchase. There is no reason for Congress to change this popular law." A recent World Trade Organization decision on … [Read more...]

Groups Petition Court for Permission to Defend COOL

Four groups joined together to file court papers last week for permission to defend mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) from a "spurious lawsuit" brought by the meatpacking industry. R-CALF USA, Food & Water Watch, the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, and the Western Organization of Resource Councils petitioned the court to let them defend the labeling law. COOL requires muscle cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and goat meat to display where the animal was born, raised, and slaughtered and prohibits the "commingled" mixed-origin label. Those labels allowed meat produced completely in the U.S. to carry a label such as "Product of Mexico, USA." Country of Origin Labeling has been a contentious issue and has been the subject of several lawsuits in the past few years. The American … [Read more...]

Meat Groups Say COOL Rule Violates Free Speech

The American Meat Institute (AMI) and eight other organizations representing the meat and livestock industries in the United States, Canada and Mexico say the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) new country of origin labeling (COOL) rule violates the right to free speech. Earlier this month the groups filed suit in the US District Court for the District of Columbia to overturn the rule. Last week they filed a request for an injunction against enforcement of the rule while the suit is pending. Plaintiffs include the American Association of Meat Processors, AMI, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Canadian Pork Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, North American Meat Association, Southwest Meat Association and Mexico’s National Confederation … [Read more...]

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