The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Federal Court Rules in Favor of Country of Origin Meat Labels
On Friday, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of allowing labels on meat products that say where animals were born, raised and slaughtered, according to Food & Water Watch.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
The law took effect last year requiring steaks, ribs and other cuts of meat to include country of origin labeling (COOL), but the meat industry objected and attempted to block the rules in court.
The industry argued the labels were an overreach of what Congress intended when it wrote the law, and that they violated First Amendment rights to freedom of speech.
Yet the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia sided with a lower federal court, ruled those allegations baseless and refused to block the labels.
“The Federal Appeals Court correctly affirmed the legitimate consumer interest in being able to make informed choices about the origin and safety of their meat products,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “The court recognized that COOL labels should be transparent and informative enough for consumers to make these choices, including, as the court observed, the consumer, ‘who believes that U.S. practices and regulation are better at assuring food safety than those of other countries, or indeed the reverse, to act on that premise.’”
COOL labels were deemed necessary because the more stops that meat makes on the way to your plate, the greater the risk of contamination. Industrial meat producers tend to bring in animals from other countries.
There are some notable exceptions to the new rules. Processed meat, such as bacon, organ meats and turkey are exempt.
Ground beef labels will only need to list the countries the processor might have procured it from in the last 60 days.
Tyson Foods, Cargill Inc., Hormel, General Mills and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association are among dozens of meat and food processors that opposed the new rule, calling it unnecessarily costly and short-sighted and citing concerns the labels would shrink demand for imported meat.
However, farmers, ranchers and COOL supporters disagreed.
“Our cattle-producing members have worked hard to ensure that COOL is implemented in a way that allows them to highlight beef from their cattle that are born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S., and we are pleased the court has determined that we have the right to continue doing so,” said Bob Fortune, president of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates the meat industry may have to spend between $53 million and $192 million to comply with the new law.
“We believe the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the American Meat Institute should honor this important court decision and cease their incessant attacks on our nation’s COOL law in their efforts to hide the true origins of meat from U.S. consumers," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. "COOL is needed so U.S. livestock producers can offer consumers a choice to buy U.S. beef that is produced by U.S. farmers and ranchers."
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Brian Barth
Late fall, after the last crops have been harvested, is a time to rest and reflect on the successes and challenges of the gardening year. But for those whose need to putter around in the garden doesn't end when cold weather comes, there's surely a few lingering chores. Get them done now and you'll be ahead of the game in spring.
(R) The measles virus pictured under a microscope. PHIL / CDC
The Pacific Island nation of Samoa declared a state of emergency this week, closed all of its schools and limited the number of public gatherings allowed after a measles outbreak has swept across the country of just 200,000 people, according to Reuters.
By Bailey Hopp
If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.
By Alison Cagle
Rising above the Arizona desert, the Santa Rita Mountains cradle 10,000 years of Indigenous history. The Tohono O'odham Nation, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, and Hopi Tribe, among numerous other tribes, have worshipped, foraged, hunted and laid their ancestors to rest in the mountains for generations.
Native Americans are disproportionately without access to clean water, according to a new report, "Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States: A National Action Plan," to be released this afternoon, which shows that more than two million Americans do not have access to access to running water, indoor plumbing or wastewater services.
By Nanticha Ocharoenchai
In the Czech Republic, horses have become the knights in shining armor. A study published in the Journal for Nature Conservation suggests that returning feral horses to grasslands in Podyjí National Park could help boost the numbers of several threatened butterfly species.