US repeals country of origin labelling law on beef and pork

The US has repealed its law on the country of origin labelling requirements for beef and pork products.

All imported and domestic meat will continue to be subject to rigorous inspections to ensure food safety, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be amending the country of origin labelling regulations as expeditiously as possible to reflect the repeal of the beef and pork provisions.

“The omnibus bill repealed the country of origin labeling (COOL) requirements for muscle cuts of beef and pork, and ground beef and pork.

“Effective immediately, USDA is not enforcing the COOL requirements for muscle cut and ground beef and pork outlined in the January 2009 and May 2013 final rules,” Vilsack said.

The North American Meat Institute (representing US processors and their suppliers) has welcomed the news.

It said that by repealing COOL requirements for beef and pork, the US is avoiding more than $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs from Canada and Mexico that were authorised last year by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The National Farmers Union in the US (representing farmers and ranchers in all states) however, has always supported country of origin labelling.

It believes that the “consumer should know where the meat at the grocery store came from”.

Roger Johnson, President of the NFU, said that as Christmas 2015 approached, the WTO authorized Canada and Mexico to retaliate more than $1 billion against the US at the same time that Congress needed to pass a funding bill to avoid shutting down the government.

“A backroom deal was cut without public input, and repeal of COOL for beef and pork was included in the omnibus funding bill and signed by the President on December 18,” he said.