CFA Disappointed In WTO Decision on Country-of-Origin Labeling

Urges Obama Administration to Appeal Ruling

(October 20, 2014) - Consumer Federation of America today expressed strong disappointment with the decision by a World Trade Organization panel which ruled on U.S. country-of-origin labeling (COOL) requirements for meat.

“Today’s decision flies in the face of the overwhelming numbers of U.S. consumers who want more information about the origin of their food,” said Chris Waldrop, Director of CFA’s Food Policy Institute.

A poll conducted in 2013 by CFA found that a large majority of Americans strongly support mandatory country of origin labeling for fresh meat and strongly favor requiring meat to be labeled with specific information about where the animals were born, raised and processed.

In response to an earlier WTO ruling, the U.S. Department of Agriculture revised and strengthened its COOL regulations to provide consumers with more precise information about the country in which the production steps of birth, raising and slaughter occurred. CFA strongly supported the revisions which provide greater transparency for consumers and align this information with recordkeeping requirements for producers and processors.

Today’s ruling means that the WTO compliance panel decided that the modified regulations still constitute a “technical barrier to trade.” However this is not the final word. The U.S. can appeal the ruling before the WTO issues a final ruling. If the U.S. were to lose the appeal, only then will the WTO begin the process of determining the extent of any trade sanctions that Canada and Mexico will be allowed to impose against the U.S.

“Basic information about the origin of our food should not be considered a barrier to trade,” Waldrop said. “CFA strongly urges the Obama Administration to appeal the WTO decision and continue to fight for U.S. consumers’ right to know the origin of their food.”

Contact: Chris Waldrop 202-797-8551

Consumer Federation of America is an association of nearly 300 nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy and education.