Meat Companies Sue USDA Over Labeling Requirements

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After a USDA ruling, meat companies fight back

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is enforcing new meat labeling requirements, and meat companies are not taking it well. To express their discontent, industry groups filed a lawsuit against USDA, according to The Huffington Post.

The American Meat Institute and seven other industry groups complain that the new labeling laws, requiring that all meat products include details about where an animal was born, raised, and slaughtered on the label, are too costly and offer no public health or safety benefits. Previously, labels only listed the meats’ countries of origin. Industry groups claim that the ruling, which USDA calls COOL for country of origin labeling, was not stated in the law Congress passed.

In addition to the new labeling rules, USDA is prohibiting mixing meat from animals born, raised, and slaughtered in the United States with meat from those of other countries.

AMI Executive Mark Dopp says, "Segregating and tracking animals according to the countries where production steps occurred and detailing that information on a label may be a bureaucrat's paperwork fantasy, but the labels that result will serve only to confuse consumers, raise the prices they pay, and put some producers and meat and poultry companies out of business in the process."

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USDA disagrees. It says the new laws will help consumers make informed decisions when purchasing meat. Advocates of the labeling requirements, such as farmers’ organizations and environmental groups, say the rules will be helpful in food safety issues.