Nutrition Business Journal

Country of Origin Meat Labeling Set to Take Effect

Consumers who purchase meat at the grocery store after September 30th may notice a change on the product labeling. 


Mandatory country of origin labeling will take effect as was mandated by the 2008 Farm Bill. The latest provision came as an amendment to the 2002 Farm Security and Rural Investment Act.

The original bill required country of origin labeling for beef, lamb, pork, fish, perishable agricultural commodities and peanuts. Congress passed the mandatory labeling in 2002, but its implementation was delayed amidst concerns from the food industry. Seafood labeling rules were implemented three years ago, and the most recent bill expands the list to include chicken, goat meat, ginseng, pecans and macadamia nuts.

Some U.S. consumers are happy about the labeling, as it gives them a chance to avoid beef and meat from other countries which they feel is potentially unsafe. “I just don't eat it if it's from another country," said Suzanne Foster, co-owner of a family fishing business near Clearwater, FL.

Others in the food industry see it as unnecessary red tape. “What can they learn from seeing the country?" said Mark Dopp, a senior vice president for the American Meat Institute. "This is not a food-safety-related law. This tells nothing about safety. If there was a demand for this, consumers would have asked for this, and we have not heard that."

The USDA estimates that the new labeling will cost $2.5 billion in the first year, and $500 million annually. Supermarkets will take on the majority of those costs. As a result, the USDA predicts slight increases in price, $.07 per pound for beef, and $.04 per pound for pork. More reaction from consumers and food producers can be found here.

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