USHSLA supports WTO verdict on meat origin labelling

United States
Published:  19 May, 2015

USHSLA (U.S Hide, Skin and Leather Association) agrees with the statement issued by The North American Meat Institute’s President and CEO Barry Carpenter regarding the May 18 WTO decision finding that U.S Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) for meat products violates U.S trade obligations.

“The U.S clearly took a thumping with this WTO ruling,” says Stephen Sothmann, President of the U.S. Hide, Skin and Leather Association. “It is long past time for this expensive, burdensome, and altogether unnecessary law to be repealed.”

“If there ever was any question that that mandatory country-of-origin labeling is a trade barrier that violates our international agreements, the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) ruling against the United States today should lay those doubts to rest. The WTO has spoken not once, not twice, not three times, but four times in panel and appellate body decisions. All four rulings found against the U.S”, says Barry Carpenter.

The repeal is particularly warranted given new data released earlier this month by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation, which shows country-of-origin information maintained its ninth place spot on the list of 11 pieces of labelling information that consumers use when choosing a food product. The percentage of consumers saying they use COOL labels has declined markedly from 29% in 2013, to 26% in 2014 to 15% in 2015. By contrast, half of consumers look for expiration dates and the nutrition facts panel.

Any action other than repeal invites retaliation from Canada and Mexico that could cost the U.S economy billions of dollars. We (Meat Institute) look forward to working with Congress to repeal COOL once and for all, so that the United States can comply with its trade obligations, avoid unnecessary retaliation against our products and restore our strong relationships with important trading partners.”

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