Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Rules for Labeling Meat Go into Effect Animals' Lifespan Now Being Tracked

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Rules for Labeling Meat Go into Effect Animals' Lifespan Now Being Tracked

Article excerpt

MILWAUKEE -- U.S. shoppers will soon have more information about where their meat comes from after new federal labeling rules went into effect Thursday.

The rules require labels on steaks, ribs and other cuts of meat to say where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. Earlier U.S. Department of Agriculture rules required only that countries of origin be noted, so a package might say "Produce of U.S. and Canada." Now, the label will specify "Born in Canada, raised and slaughtered in the United States."

The new rules apply only to cuts of meat, such as steaks and roasts, not to ground meat.

The USDA has required country of origin labels on seafood since 2005, and on meat and other products since 2009. The new rules for meat are meant to bring the United States in line with World Trade Organization standards, after the organization determined that the old labels discriminated against livestock imported from Canada and Mexico.

President Barack Obama's administration had asked the meat industry in 2009 to voluntarily provide the additional information on labels. The new requirements come after the WTO's appeals body in June upheld the organization's earlier decision.

The meat industry and grocery stores have protested the changes, saying they are a hassle and could lead to higher prices. The National Grocers Association issued a statement expressing its "strong frustration" over what it sees as "unnecessary" regulation. "The costs of this new change will far exceed the benefits intended and will result in no meaningful consumer benefits," the group's president and CEO, Peter Larkin, said in a statement. "Congress must take action now and create a legislative fix."

The USDA estimates that the labeling change will cost somewhere between $53.1 million and $192.1 million to put in place. The National Grocers Association said it expected that it would cost at least $100 million as companies buy new signs, labels and labeling machines. …

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