USDA Monday likely delighted consumers and ranchers alike with the release of a proposed rule with new regulatory requirements to better align the voluntary “Product of USA” label claim. with the consumer’s understanding of what that statement means.
The proposed rule allows the voluntary “Product of the USA” label. or “Made in the USA.” used in meat, poultry, and egg products only when derived from animals born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in the United States.
Monday’s announcement fulfills one of the key actions in President Biden’s plan Executive Order for the Promotion of Competition in the American economy. The US Department of Agriculture said the increased clarity and transparency provided by this proposed change would prevent consumer confusion and help ensure consumers understand where their food comes from.
“American consumers expect that when they buy a meat product in the supermarket, the claims they see on the label mean what they say,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “These proposed changes are intended to provide consumers with accurate information to make informed purchasing decisions.. Our action today affirms USDA’s commitment to ensuring accurate and truthful product labeling.”
Farm and ranch groups, consumers praise new rule
Justin Tupper, president of the US Cattlemen’s Association, said his organization requested USDA action.
“In our 2019 rulemaking petition to FSIS, the USCA drew attention to the practice of applying ‘Product of the USA’ labeling statements. and ‘Made in the USA.’ in beef products that the food safety agency itself admitted could have come from other countries.
“USCA is pleased to see that the proposed rule finally closes this loophole by precisely defining what these voluntary origin declarations mean, something we’ve been working to clarify since the repeal of the mandatory country of origin label in 2015. If it says “Made in the USA.” , then it should be from cattle that have only known US soil. Consumers have a right to know where their food comes from, period.
“USCA would like to thank the Biden Administration for incorporating this goal into its Action Plan for a Fairer, More Competitive and Resilient Meat and Poultry Supply Chain issued in 2022. But we must also recognize the tireless work of our champions in Congress, including my home state, Sen. Mike Rounds, R-SD, who sponsored the US Beef Act.” unless it is derived exclusively from US cattle. We could not have raised this issue without the many voices that spoke up and supported the change.
“USCA plans to submit comments supporting this proposed definition.”
Farm Action and the American Grassfed Association were among the farm and ranch groups that also applauded the USDA announcement, while Consumer Reports topped the approvals of consumer groups.
The voluntary “Product of the USA” label it will apply exclusively to meat, poultry, and egg products derived from animals born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in the United States.
.Current policy allows imported meat to carry a “Product of USA” label. as long as it goes through a USDA inspected plant. It’s a heavily exploited loophole that has allowed multinational corporations to import meat, repackage it, and pass it off as a higher-quality product raised by American farmers and ranchers. Monday’s announcement closes that loophole.
“Truthful labels protect consumers and keep the playing field level,” said Joe Maxwell, president and co-founder of Farm Action. “After a five-year fight, we’re pleased to see USDA step up to stop cheaters from picking the pockets of America’s farmers and ranchers.”
“Our petition filed in 2018 has finally been carried out,” said Carrie Balkcom, executive director of the American Grassfed Association. “We are pleased that the USDA is acting on ‘Product of USA.’ as promised in the executive order issued by President Biden in July 2021. This proposed regulatory change will help America’s grass-fed farmers not be undermined by the misbranded meat to come. We will continue to work with Farm Action to keep meat labels accurate.”
Brian Ronholm of Consumer Report said: “Buyers sometimes pay premium prices for products labeled ‘Product of USA.’ And they deserve to know they can trust that claim.”
As part of its review, the USDA commissioned a nationwide consumer survey. The survey revealed that the current label claim “Product of the USA” is misleading to the majority of consumers surveyed, with a significant portion believing the claim means the product was made from animals born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in the United States.
USDA’s comprehensive review shows that there is a clear need to revise the current “Product of USA” label claim. so that it more accurately conveys the US origin information.
Under the proposed rule, the label statement “Product of the USA.” I would continue to be voluntary. It would also still be eligible for generic label approval, meaning it would not need to be pre-approved by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) before it could be used on regulated products, but would require supporting documentation. on file for agency inspection personnel to verify. The regulation also proposes to allow other voluntary claims of US origin that we see on meat, poultry and egg products sold in the marketplace. These claims should include a package description of all preparation and processing steps that occurred in the United States about which the claim is made.
USDA encourages interested parties, both domestic and international, to comment on the proposed rule. The proposed rule will be open for public comment for 60 days after its publication in the federal register. Public comments can be sent to www.regulations.gov.
This is the first major progress since Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) was originally passed in the 2008 Farm Bill, and the first step toward labeling truth since the repeal of the Mandatory COOL program. COOL in 2015.
Congress repeated MCool after the World Trade Organization (WTO) said it was a non-tariff trade barrier and would allow Canada and Mexico to rake in billions from US concerns.
Mandatory COOL remains the primary goal of the US livestock industry and the desires of the majority of livestock producers and consumers. the american Beef Labeling Law reinstates mandatory country of origin labeling requirements for beef.
Specifically, the bill requires the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) to develop a means to reinstate requirements that comply with World Trade Organization rules.
USTR and the Department of Agriculture must implement the means within one year.
Clear USDA definition is the first step to ensure true and accurate labels.
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