Congress Repeals Country-of-Origin Meat Labeling Rule
Thanks to a label that reads “Product of the USA,” consumers have been able to find out a package of steaks or pork chops in the freezer section at their local grocery store came from America. But soon meat lovers will be hard-pressed to figure out whether the animals on their dinner plates were raised and slaughtered—in the States or halfway around the world.
The country-of-origin labeling rule, known as COOL, was repealed under the federal spending bill passed Friday by Congress, The Wall Street Journal reports. President Barack Obama added his signature to the bill as well.
The decision to repeal COOL comes on the heels of a ruling from the World Trade Organization that found the labels discriminate against meat raised and slaughtered in countries other than the U.S. Earlier this month, the WTO allowed Mexico and Canada—America’s top ag partners—to impose more than $1 billion in tariffs on U.S. goods in retaliation if the labels were not removed.
Mexican and Canadian cattle and hog producers are celebrating the move, as they say the label has greatly impacted their business, but it’s not only their products that will now be in grocery-store meat coolers. America could also see an influx of imports from Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil.
Brazil had an outbreak of mad cow disease as recently as 2014, and it has problems with hoof-and-mouth disease. The nation’s cattle industry was also a major driver of deforestation, although it has recently made strides to raise cattle without destroying the Amazon.