Meat Labeling Gets Push Back From WTO

The World Trade Organization (WTO) announced on Monday that it has rejected U.S. rules that would require country-of-origin labeling on packaged beef and pork products. While the labeling would have helped U.S. ranchers, the WTO said the requirements would put Canadian and Mexican meats at an unfair disadvantage.

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The World Trade Organization (WTO) announced on Monday that it has rejected U.S. rules that would require labeling packaged beef and pork products identifying where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered. While the labeling would have helped U.S. ranchers, the WTO said the requirements would put Canadian and Mexican meats at an unfair disadvantage.

As reported by the Associated Press, in 2012, the WTO had ruled against the "country of origin labeling" (COOL) requirements, which Congress originally wrote in 2002. The U.S. Department of Agriculture had rewritten the rules to win approval, but those revised guidelines were the focus of the WTO’s decision on Monday indicating they still violated trade rules.

The WTO indicated that the labeling requirement would force U.S. meatpackers to segregate products and keep detailed record on imported livestock. With these extra requirements placed on the production of imported meat, the WTO believes it would incentivize meatpackers to favor U.S. livestock to avoid the paperwork burden.

In a statement from Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, director Lori Wallach said:

"Today's ruling spotlights how these so-called trade deals are packed with non-trade provisions that threaten our most basic rights, such as even knowing the source and safety of what's on our dinner plate."

Meat industry trade groups are calling for another effort to amend the COOL statute to comply with international obligations while the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said it is currently considering all options, including an appeal of the ruling.  

What Do You Think?

Did the WTO come to the right decision concerning meat labeling rules? Do you think the labels are wanted and/or necessary for U.S. consumers? What kind of impact could these labels potentially have on farmers if a recall was issued on U.S. meat? Tell us what you think by leaving your comments below. 


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