USDA Must Stand Up for Country of Origin Labeling | Food & Water Watch
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Tricia Sheldon
February 12th, 2013

Consumers and Farmers Show USDA How to Stand Up for Country of Origin Labeling

Washington, D.C. — Today, Food & Water Watch released a legal memo that provides a roadmap for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to stand up for Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) on beef and pork in the face of challenges to these commonsense labels at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The memo was developed with consumer group Public Citizen and farmer groups National Farmers Union and the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association.

“Consumers deserve clear, transparent and informative COOL labels and the WTO has no place meddling in American grocery carts,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “President Obama campaigned to protect country of origin labels in 2008 and he can do so again by implementing these straightforward improvements to COOL rules.”

In 2008, years of effort by consumers and farmers resulted in mandatory country of origin labels for meats, poultry, vegetables, fruits and some nuts being included in the Farm Bill. But the WTO has ruled that these popular labels are in violation of international trade rules.

The WTO ruling found that current rules for COOL labels imposed a regulatory cost to imported livestock and meat that exceeded the consumer benefit. “The logical way to respond is to defend the integrity of the country of origin labels by simplifying the information provided on the labels and making them clearer for consumers,” said Hauter. “The new legal memo demonstrates a reasonable next step for USDA that makes labeling more meaningful to them.”

A copy of the memo can be downloaded here:

Contact: Anna Ghosh, 415-293-9905, aghosh(at)fwwatch(dot)org

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.