USDA labeling guidelines

Meat Labels Will Tell You Where The Animal Was Born And Slaughtered

New US Department of Agriculture (USDA) labeling rules for steaks, ribs, roasts and various other cuts of meat – which went into effect Thursday – will now provide a more transparent background on the animal you’re eating. Perhaps unappetizingly, you’ll know where it was born and slaughtered. However, the new federal labeling will not been applied to ground meat.

Country-of-origin labeling applies to certain beef, pork, lamb, chicken, goat, fish and shellfish, as well as fruits, vegetables, and some nuts. Since 2005 the origin country has been required on seafood, and since 2009 on other products.

The new rules for meat are meant to bring the US in line with World Trade Organization standards after the organization determined the old labels discriminated against imported livestock from areas like Canada and Mexico, according to a report by The Associated Press.

The meat industry was initially asked in 2009 to voluntarily provide additional information on their labeling, but have protested the imposed changes – finding them an expensive hassle. The National Grocers Association issued a statement expressing its frustration over the unnecessary regulation – citing the expense as exceeding in comparison to the consumer benefit.

As a consumer, wouldn’t you want more information on what you are ingesting? Or is ignorance bliss when it comes to your steak? But meat makers and grocers argue there is no evidence consumers want such details and would only result in increase in the product cost.

CBS News reports that the USDA estimates the labeling facelift will cost somewhere between $53.1 million and $192.1 million. The National Grocers Association said it expects the process to cost at least $100 million as companies will have to be retrofitted with new labeling machines – a cost that would be carried over to consumers.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association also fear retaliation with taxes or other restrictions, and doesn’t feel the mandate will satisfy the conditions of international trade. But several consumer and environmental groups support the change.

Do you want more transparency about the process and ingredients in your food?

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