US manufacturers appeal against labelling plans

10th January 2014 - Fine Cut

A group of US and Canadian meat producers have appeared in a Washington court to voice their concerns over the prospect of new mandatory country of origin labelling (COOL) for certain items.

Eight industry groups - including the Canadian Pork Council, the Canadian Cattlemen's Association and the American Meat Institution - commenced legal proceedings against the US Department of Agriculture in July 2013, demand that the new regulations are halted.

The appeal comes after US District Court judge Ketanji Brown Jackson turned down the request in September for a preliminary injunction to halt COOL at the same time a dispute resolution process from the World Trade Organisation plays out.

It has been claimed that the new requirements could cost Canada's beef and pork industries $1.1 billion (£616 million) per year, iPolitics reports.

Food labelling has been at the forefront of international debate for several months - and there is no sign that the issue will be resolved in the near future. Several governments have claimed that clearer identification of unhealthy foods could damage exports, while others have supported the notion of giving consumers more choice about the items they purchase during their weekly shop.

Failure to label food items correctly could also result in legal implications for some companies. A Polish importer who sold groceries without English labels in several delis across Essex was recently fined for breaking Trading Standards regulations.

According to the Harlow Star, Marcin Frankowski was ordered to pay £700 and £170 in legal fees, while his company was fined £2,250 plus £1,470 in a court appearance earlier this month.

In his defence, Mr Frankowski, who has been running the business for around seven years, said he had problems with his suppliers not providing translations. However, he said procedures were now in place to check arriving stock and stick on English labels.

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