Processing Magazine

Meat industry challenges new rules for origin labeling

December 2, 2013

<photocredit>Darryl Brooks/iStockphoto/Thinkstock</photocredit>

Some of the biggest names in the U.S. meat processing industry are spearheading an industry appeal in court, calling for a rethink of the rules requiring companies to specify the origin of meat on labels.

Under the new rules, processors and packers have to provide information about the countries where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered, the Wall Street Journal reported. The rules were finalized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the spring and the six-month grace period ended on Nov. 23. The rules only apply to muscle cuts of meat, while ground meat, processed meat and deli meat will be exempt.

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Big industry firms like Tyson Foods Inc. and Cargill claim that the rules will mean unnecessary costs for packers. They explain that tracking the origin of animals born abroad is an expensive and difficult task. Moreover, it offers very little new information that could be of use to consumers. Previously, meatpackers were required to identify meat with a label like "Product of Canada and the USA," while the new rules would require labeling such as "Born in Canada, raised and slaughtered in the USA."

The USDA has estimated that compliance with the new rules will cost the industry between $53 million and $192 million, the Wall Street Journal said. Industry stakeholders have challenged the rules in court and federal judges are due to hear oral arguments on January 9, 2014.