US meat industry calls for changes to COOL labelling law

30th January 2014 - Fine Cut

The US meat industry is lobbying the government to repeal mandatory country-of-origin (COOL) labelling legislation.

According to the sector, the rules are causing conflicts with trade partners and are pushing up their costs by requiring livestock to be separated throughout the supply chain.

The Farm Bill, which has been passed by the House of Representatives, maintains the COOL law - despite pressures to change it - and has caused industry bodies affected to band together in order to fight for its repeal.

Senators will now vote on the Farm Bill, despite calls from domestic businesses and major US trading partners such as the US and Mexico to scrap the labelling legislation.

Speaking to Reuters, Dave Warner of the National Pork Council said: "We had asked for a fix. Now, because that is not in the Farm Bill, we're going to ask for a full repeal."

Canadian meat industry businesses are worried that higher costs and demand for domestic products in the US will negatively affect their sales.

The nation’s government has waded into the debate on the side of its exporters, pressing for the mandatory COOL law to be repealed, threatening retaliatory tariffs if it is not and complaining to the World Trade Organization that the legislation is discriminatory.

Why impose COOL labelling?

However, for some companies COOL labelling offers them the opportunity to target customers who have positive associations with those products, for example British beef, French wine and Spanish sausage.

Labelling food products with country of origin can be done in a variety of ways and Fine Cut offers advice on the best means of communicating this to consumers.

European protected food name status offers a safeguard for certain businesses and, in the UK, one of the most recent products to be added to the list of those with European Union protected food name status when it comes to country of origin is Anglesey sea salt, joining produce such as Cornish clotted cream and West country beef and lamb.

COOL labelling can also give consumers greater peace of mind and may have helped to prevent food fraud scandals, such as the recent row over horse meat in European products.

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