Higher standards for “Product of USA” meat proposed by Biden administration By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Cuts of meat are seen for sale at a butcher shop in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 8, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

By Leah Douglas

(Reuters) – Companies labeling their meat, poultry, or eggs as a U.S. product must raise and slaughter the animals within the country under a new rule proposed by the Biden administration on Monday.

U.S. ranchers had pushed for the change, arguing that existing rules for the label – which permit its use for meat derived from animals that were born and raised abroad and only processed in the U.S. – disadvantaged domestic producers.

The administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) pledged to review the “Product of USA” and “Made in the USA” label standards for meat early last year as part of a broader strategy to encourage competition in the economy as a whole and in the highly consolidated meat sector.

“American consumers expect that when they buy a meat product at the grocery store, the claims they see on the label mean what they say,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.

The USDA conducted a consumer survey last year that found the majority of consumers believed the “Product of USA” label means the product came from animals born and raised in the country, the agency said.

U.S. meat labeling has been contentious for years. In 2009, USDA finalized labeling standards for meat that required country of origin labeling, but the World Trade Organization blocked implementation of the standard in 2015 after Canada and Mexico brought legal challenges, arguing damage to trade.

The “Product of the USA” label will remain voluntary under USDA’s proposed rule.

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