COOL is Challenged in Court

Meat labels raise ire in Canada

By Monique Coppola, California News Service

Country-of-Origin-Labeling, or COOL, requires labels on meat sold in the U.S. to clearly state where that meat comes from.

And it isn’t sitting well with some foreign countries, along with groups in the U.S. that are working to get the rule quashed.

Joe Maxwell is a livestock farmer and the vice president of outreach and engagement for the Humane Society of the United States. His organization has helped form a coalition to try to keep the law in place.

As a livestock farmer, Maxwell says this should be a major concern for consumers and farmers alike, as some countries do not have health and safety rules for raising animals, and meat processing standards are lower.

“As we’ve seen recently with the USDA accepting certain country’s standards even though those standards are less than the Unites States,” Maxwell says, “clearly indicates that a consumer should have the right to know where that animal was raised, and how it was processed and how it wound up being in that meat counter.”

Maxwell says the USDA recently changed its rules allowing chickens raised in the U.S. to be sent to China to be processed and brought back here to be sold. He says if COOL is overturned, the American consumer will be kept in the dark about the origins of all meat.

Maxwell adds that the list of those working to overturn COOL include foreign countries such as Canada, and U.S. groups including the National Pork Producers Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

He says the push for cheap meat has come at a heavy price for animal welfare and for small farmers.

“The policy that we have has driven off the land over a million farmers in the last 35 to 40 years,” he points out. “It’s caged and crated and put into extreme confinement almost 9 billion animals.”

The Humane Society of the United States, along with the Organization for Competitive Markets, United Farm Workers of America, the American Grassfed Association and three independent, family-owned livestock farms filed a brief supporting the law (COOL) in a federal appeals court in Washington.

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November 21, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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