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AMS Proposes COOL 'Fix' That Makes Labeling Scheme Even More Onerous.

Monday, March 11, 2013

(American Meat Institute)

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) last Friday posted for public display a proposed rule that would amend the final rule for mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) for beef, pork, lamb, chicken and goat meat and make current labeling requirement even more costly and onerous.    The proposal has a comment period of 30 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register, which likely will occur early this week.
 
The proposal would require all muscle cut covered commodities slaughtered in the United States specify the production steps of birth, raising, and slaughter of the animal from which the meat is derived that took place in each country listed on the origin designation." For example, covered commodities from the "A" category, (United States as the only country of origin) would need to declare all of the production steps, i.e., "Born, Raised, and Slaughtered in the United States."
 
Muscle cut covered commodities derived from animals with one or more countries of origin but slaughtered in the United States would be required to bear labels identifying the country or countries where the various production steps occurred.  The proposal also would eliminate the currently allowed practice of commingling muscle cut covered commodities of different origins and using a single label, e.g., Product of U.S. and Canada. Because all origin designations would have to include production step information, commingling would not be permitted. Ending this practice would, according to AMS allow "consumers to benefit from more specific labels."
 
In response to the proposal, AMI President J. Patrick Boyle issued a strongly worded statement saying, "Only the government could take a costly, cumbersome rule like mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) and make it even worse as it claims to 'fix it.' That's exactly what they are doing with a new proposed rule that purportedly aims to bring the law into compliance with U.S. obligations under the World Trade Organization." AMI's comments were picked up by leading outlets including Reuters and Dow Jones.

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