The United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection
Service (USDA FSIS) officially responded today to the United States
Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) petition regarding accurate labeling of beef
products. The petition requested FSIS to amend the Agency’s Food
Standards and Labeling Policy Book to provide that any beef labeled as
“Made in the USA”, “Product of the USA”, “USA Beef”, or in any other
manner that suggests that the origin is the United States be derived from
cattle that have been born, raised, and slaughtered in the U.S.
USCA appreciates FSIS for responding to and acknowledging many points
within the petition. Specifically, FSIS acknowledged USCA’s blueprint in
regards to addressing the loopholes that exist within the current
labeling system, and that the current consumer confusion in the
marketplace is a direct result of these inaccurate labels.
However, as a part of the open rule making process, FSIS considered all
of the comments submitted in response to USCA’s petition. A number of
those comments were from industry and corporations who have long opposed
accurate labeling in regards to “U.S. Beef”, and that is reflected in
In response to the comments in opposition of USCA’s petition, FSIS will
now consider a second rule making that will:
“Product of USA” and certain other voluntary U.S. origin statements to
the labeling of meat products from livestock that were slaughtered and
processed in the United States. The
Agency has determined that a voluntary U.S. meat product origin labeling
policy that focusses on where the product is made, i.e., where the
livestock are slaughtered and processed, without regard to where the
source animals were born, may more accurately reflect what “origin” means with
respect to meat products processed in the United States and will thus
result in labels that are truthful and not misleading."
While FSIS has acknowledged the problem of current consumer confusion in
the marketplace, it is clear now that Congress will need to step in to
fix the current labeling problem. USCA remains disappointed that an accurate and
truthful origin definition was not achieved through Congress in 2015,
however, efforts are underway to secure this needed language through legislation.
The second round of rulemaking will effectively take producers out of the
equation when it comes to the labeling of U.S. beef products as FSIS will
look to redefine the term “origin”, to instead refer to the packing house
or processing facility, rather than the ranch. The true origin of any
beef product is with the producer, and USCA will continue to work with
Congress on a path forward to ensure this information is acknowledged and
communicated effectively to the consumer.