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Victory! More Transparent Meat Labels Coming

Victory! More Transparent Meat Labels Coming
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A new rule will close a loophole that allows fraud in meat labeling. It needs our support. Action Alert!

Many of us look for the “Product of USA” sticker on the meat we buy in the supermarket, but we may not be aware that, for years, the USDA has allowed meat raised outside the US to carry that label. It’s a shameful case of government-sanctioned fraud. After significant pushback from ANH-USA and other consumer advocates, the USDA has issued a proposed rule that would fix this problem. This is a major victory, but we need to help this rule across the finish line.

As we explained previously, current USDA policy allows foreign meat to be imported to the US and carry the “Product of USA” label if it passes through a USDA-inspected plant. The USDA loophole allows foreign multinational corporations to disguise their products and take advantage of the lucrative US market. There’s good reason to believe that this loophole also violates the federal government’s own policies that prohibit false or misleading labeling.

Under the proposed rule, meat products derived from live animals imported into the U.S. for feeding or immediate slaughter could no longer use “Product of USA” or “Made in the USA” labels. Likewise, imported meat products reprocessed in the U.S. could no longer claim they are a “Product of USA” or “Made in the USA.”

Not only does the current rule allow blatant fraud; there are also safety concerns. Take mad cow disease for example, which was a real concern a number of years ago. Millions of cattle were infected with the disease in the UK in the early 1990s, prompting a ban on the importation of beef from that country. Other safeguards were put in place by the USDA to prevent mad cow from entering the food supply. However, in 2013 the USDA relaxed regulations for beef imports from countries with a history of mad cow disease. So, if a consumer wanted to avoid meat from those countries by buying meat from the US, this loophole would make it impossible to do so.

Labels should mean something, but too often they don’t in our broken food system. Many consumers buy products with “natural” on the label without knowing that the term is meaningless—foods can have the word “natural” on the package yet still contain artificial ingredients, GMOs, and pesticides. The sham GMO labeling bill is yet another case in point: a “mandatory” labeling bill that allows producers to hide the contents of their food in scannable codes or deceptive symbols and to use terms like “bioengineered” that many people may be unfamiliar with. It simply does not pass the laugh test that meat from outside the US can carry the “Product of USA” label. 

The proposed rule makes meat labeling more transparent, but industry still has a chance to influence and undermine this rule. Let’s flood the regulatory docket with comments supporting the rule change to make meat labeling more transparent for consumers.

Action Alert! Publish a public comment supporting the USDA’s rule to prohibit fraud in “Product of USA” labeling. Please send your message immediately.

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