U.S – The United States Department of Agriculture(USDA) is set to initiate a top-to-bottom review of the “product of USA”(POTUSA) meat label to enable a comprehensive, effective and lasting rule-making on the topic, following the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) vote to strengthen its enforcement of the “Made in USA standard.”
The USDA has implied that they together with FTC had received several comments on this issue, and comprehend that the current “Product of USA” label on meat products, may no longer effectively serve either of those purposes, to the detriment of consumers, producers, and fair and competitive markets.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) had earlier petitioned the USDA to eliminate such labels that make broad claims about the origin of beef products because they are likely to mislead consumers.
In the petition, the trade association had pleaded for the declaration of a federal rule to update existing labeling standards in a way that will more precisely inform consumers.
The department’s agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack stated that the USDA will back the FTC’s efforts with their own initiative on labeling, for products regulated by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), an area of consumer labeling where USDA has a long tradition of protecting consumers from false and misleading labels.
“I am committed to ensuring that the Product of USA label reflects what a plain understanding of those terms means to U.S. consumers. Throughout the rule-making process, we will be asking questions, collecting data, and requesting comments,
“We will be considering all ideas suggested by the whole range of stakeholders, including our trading partners with whom we will engage to ensure that this labeling initiative is implemented in a way that fulfills our commitment to working cooperatively with our trade partners and meeting our international trade obligations,” announced Tom.
American consumers depend upon accurate, transparent labels to obtain important information about the food they consume.
American farmers and ranchers bank on those same labels, to convey information about their products that consumers value and demand.
Under the current language, an item can be labeled a “Product of the USA” so long as it was processed domestically.
American producers have expressed frustration about that clause, saying it could allow foreign meat to be labeled as a U.S. product.
USDA plans to make a ruling on the issue after exhaustive review.