Country of Origin Labels Take the Mystery out of Meat.
People deserve the right to know how and where their food was produced so they can make informed decisions about what they’re feeding themselves and their families—it’s that simple.
Food labels are a straightforward and fundamental concept but consumer advocates and concerned citizens have been fighting for honest, transparent labels about their food for centuries, and the fight rages on.
However, there’s another important label that is law, but its fate is hanging in the balance—Country of Origin Labeling, or COOL.
After more than a decade of hard work, the COOL rule was included in the 2008 Farm Bill and has had overwhelming support from both consumers and U.S. farmers, despite repeated attempts by the food industry to kill the program and delay its implementation.
Today, because of COOL, consumers know more about where their food comes from, although there are still too many loopholes and limitations. COOL applies to fresh seafood, cuts of meat (but not processed meats like sausage), fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables and several kinds of nuts.
But even before the first COOL label was slapped on a steak or pork chop, the meatpacking industry sought to unravel COOL by challenging these commonsense consumer labels at the World Trade Organization as an illegal barrier to international trade.
At the end of 2011, the World Trade Organization ruled that although COOL labels were a legitimate goal, the United States’ COOL program is a violation of international trade law.
Essentially, the WTO over-ruled the U.S. Congress and the overwhelming majority of consumers and farmers.
Then, recently, Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and 27 of their colleagues from both parties, sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative urging that any changes to the COOL rule must continue to give consumers information about the source of the meat in their grocery carts.
People deserve the right to know how and where their food was produced so they can make informed decisions about what they’re feeding themselves and their families—it’s that simple. We applaud Senator Tester and his colleagues for standing up for consumers’ right to know and hope the Obama Administration follows suit.
For more information:
>>The letter signed by the bipartisan coalition of senators urging the USDA to protect COOL
>>Senator Tester’s press release
>>Global Grocer: Fill your virtual grocery cart with produce from around the world and learn about its hidden dangers
>>Report: A Decade of Dangerous Food Imports from China
>>Report: The Poisoned Fruit of American Trade Policy
From our friends at foodandwaterwatch.org.
As the Western Region Communications Director for Food & Water Watch, Anna Ghosh manages communications for the food policy team, Mountain West and Pacific regions from the San Francisco office. She has nearly two decades of experience in communications strategy and media relations that spans across PR agencies large and small, in-house work and consulting for leading-edge businesses, non-profits, events and documentary films. Anna has a B.S. in Public Relations from the University of Florida. She can be reached at aghosh(at)fwwatch(dot)org.
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Assistant Editor: Jennifer Townsend /Ed: Lynn Hasselberger