The country’s largest beef producer group says “Product of the United States” labels on steaks, roasts and patties are misleading consumers and calls on the Department of Agriculture to change or ban the wording.
A petition the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association filed with the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service on Thursday suggested changing the label to something like “Processed in the United States” or removing it. .
The âProduct of USAâ label is ambiguous as to the source of the meat; current law only requires the processing or repackaging of meat to benefit from this claim.
âIn the current state of the label, there are a lot of things implicit. With ‘treaty’ it’s a bit clearer, âsaid NCBA lobbyist Kent Bacus in an interview with Agri-Pulse.
âAs we move forward, it is important that we find a reasonable solution that does not violate any of our trade agreements, trigger any form of retaliation, but also allows us to differentiate our product in a way that is beneficial to producers. , ” he added.
The industry has struggled to find the right approach for source verified claims since the repeal of mandatory country of origin labeling in 2015. The move follows a long trade dispute between the United States , Mexico and Canada which ultimately led to the World Trade Organization. authorizing retaliatory tariffs of more than a billion dollars against American products. These duties were never put in place because the law was repealed.
This petition represents the second such effort by a beef industry group to attempt to address âproduct of the United Statesâ claims. In 2019, the US Cattlemen’s Association submitted a petition to FSIS that âany beef product labeled as ‘Made in USA’, ‘Product of the United States’, ‘American Beef’ or otherwise designated as American beef , is sourced from cattle that were born, raised and harvested in the United States.
In response to the USCA’s petition, FSIS said that the existing wording “may be confusing in the market, in particular with regard to certain imported meat products” and committed to start the development of rules to “define the conditions under which the labeling of meat products would be allowed to make voluntary claims of origin “.
In a statement, the NCBA also said it wanted to work with the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Department to develop voluntary programs for producers looking to market source-verified products.
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