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U.S. Tightens Country-of-Origin Meat Labeling After WTO Ruling

May 23, 2013

May 23 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. tightened country-of-origin labeling provisions to specify where animals are born, raised and slaughtered after the World Trade Organization backed complaints from Canada and Mexico that challenged the policy.

The rule also bans the mingling of meat cuts of commodities from different nations. The measures will cost meatpackers including Tyson Foods Inc., as much as $47.3 million to implement, according to the regulation to be published in tomorrow’s Federal Register.

(Click one of the play buttons below to hear reaction to the COOL changes on AgriTalk.)

The labeling provision has led many U.S. meatpacking companies to stop buying animals born in Canada, which cost that nation’s livestock industry millions of dollars, according to Canadian farmer and rancher groups.

"These changes will provide consumers with more specific information about the origin of muscle cut covered commodities," according to the rule.

Under U.S. law in force since 2009, food processors must identify the nations where cattle, hogs and some fresh produce originate. The legislation was introduced in response to the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, in a Canadian-bred animal in 2003.

Canada and Mexico said the labeling requirement impose unjust costs on their exports. WTO judges agreed last year that beef and pork from Canada and Mexico were treated less favorably than the same U.S. products.


--Editors: Steve Geimann, Jon Morgan


To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Bjerga in Washington at


To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at

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RELATED TOPICS: Policy, Livestock, Cattle

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