Congress cools off beef and pork labelling

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

The US government has backtracked on COOL labelling
The US government has backtracked on COOL labelling

Related tags: Barack obama

US President Barack Obama has signed an omnibus bill to end the US government’s enforcement of the country-of-origin labelling (COOL) requirements for beef and pork products. 

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will amend country-of-origin requirements on beef, pork and mince products after COOL requirements were repealed by Congress on Friday 18 December.

A statement published by the USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsacks made it clear changes to meat labelling would be made “as expeditiously as possible”​. This, the US minister stressed, was being done “to reflect the repeal of the beef and pork provisions”​ enshrined in law by the signature of Barack Obama.

Vilsacks added: “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.”​ However, “all imported and domestic meat will continue to be subject to rigorous inspections by USDA to ensure food safety”​ standards are met.

Congress passed a $1.1 trillion spending package to avoid a government shutdown on Friday 18 December.

In the 2,000 page document that largely focused on spending, section 179 was pertinent to the meat industry.

The COOL repeal was included in the omnibus bill after the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruled that Canada and Mexico can claim up to $1bn in tariffs on US products.

The WTO ruled this was a punishment for the economic damage labelling requirements caused Canada and Mexico.

The US is believed to have breached global trading rules and, at the start of December 2015, the WTO ordered the US to pay Mexico $47.55m in compensation and $43.22m to Canada.

R-Calf USA, a cattle trade association based in Montana, expressed disappointment at the decision.

CEO Bill Bullard said the bill “strips US citizens of their right to know the origins of their beef and pork”.

Now, importers from around 15 countries including Honduras, Nicaragua, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Canada will find it easier to market beef in the US as labelling will be less rigorous than it has been.

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Posted by Maria Ramirez,

I'm so dissapointed in our government... They are only looking out for big corporation's interest not the American citizens. I no longer have any faith in our government and the Obama Administration. I am no longer asking and imploring, I am telling you that I want to know what's in my food and where it comes from. It's time our government starts doing their job and working for American's interest and not big corporations nor big pharma.

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Posted by Sharon Anderson,

Everyone knows meat from other nations is more than questionable. You have no idea what animal it's from, what conditions the animal lived under, could have been dogs in the street, what animal was raised on, steroids. Antibiotics, grass, grain, cow patties, tainted meats from other sources. So, you have no effing idea what crap you are putting in your body to be ingested, assimilated, digested and hopefully excreted eventually. U. S.A. has most stringent rules and quality assurance to pass before putting in meat lockers for human purchase and consumption. Why in Hell would you do away with labeling so you know what it is and where it is from. Do you think ass face Obama will eat this unlabeled meat? He does not care about Americans. He will stop at nothing to do us harm, create more problems from terrorism to eating poisoned and/or tainted meat. We can't let this bastard do these things to us. I feel he is a killer just like his Muslim terrorist buddies known as ISIS. IMPEACH THIS GUY BEFORE HE KILLS US ALL.

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Here we go...pre-TPP

Posted by Lydia,

It has been said that when the TPP is finalized, the U.S. will no longer be seeing labels on store bought meat, fish and poultry, telling its source.
I believe COOL is an early version of the ugly TPP rulings. This is very bad news, especially with the issues around food contamination and so forth.

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