New labeling laws anger meat industry
Customers will know what country their beef and pork came from and how it was treated along the way. But producers fear an international backlash.
Maybe it has something to do with the folks who are most angry. After the U.S. Department of Agriculture finalized a rule calling for mandatory labels indicating a meat's country of origin and production steps, meat industry organizations including the American Meat Institute and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association called it "extremely disappointing and short-sighted."
While the rule was created to bring the U.S. into compliance with World Trade Organization labeling standards, industry groups argue it will increase distrust of imported meat products and hurt U.S. producers through "retaliatory tariffs or other authorized trade sanctions." As AgriNews notes, Canada and Mexico have already challenged the law but were rebuffed by the WTO.
But, gee, why would Americans distrust imported meats? It's not as if Europe just went through some wide-ranging scandal in which meat labeled as ground beef contained horse and was shipped out to Nestlé (NSRGY), Yum Brands' (YUM) Taco Bell, Ikea and elsewhere. It's not as if a whole bunch of beef in South Africa turned out to be pork, goat, water buffalo and donkey meat. It's not as if the rivers of China, home of meat producer Smithfield Farms' (SFD) potential new owners, occasionally teem with dead pig carcasses.
But that's not the meat industry's concern, as an American Meat Industry spokesman told AgriNews when he insisted that no public health or welfare issues were attached to the rule. The industry is worried about the 12% of all U.S. pork that's sold to China and the gravy train that comes streaming back over the Pacific as a result.
It worried that the law's effective date of May 23, despite a six-month period for industry education and outreach, didn't give meat producers enough time to burn through label inventory or come into compliance. They're worried that the rule "ignores the realities of the marketplace and the supply chain."
It's those realities -- including the commingling of cuts of different animals -- that the new rules are trying to bring to light. That the meat industry's response includes comments such as "Please do not change the labeling requirements -- I need my job" says far more about what's going on behind the scenes than it does about the new law addressing it.
Meat is something we don't need to import - we shouldn't be relying on other countries for that anyway - I'm happy they are making them tell us where it comes from - it's about time.
Sorry but I have a right to know where my food comes from. Most of our food comes from our farm or from other farmers that we know and TRUST. When we do happen to buy something at the store or eat at a restaurant I want to know what I'm spending my money on and who supplies it. Yes I prefer to buy American and we also try and buy as close to home as possible.
Besides See the following:
By Megha Rajagopalan
BEIJING, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Yum Brands Inc said on Monday it will stop using more than 1,000 slaughterhouses in China as it moves to tighten food safety and reverse a sharp drop in business at KFC restaurants in its top market after a scare over contaminated chicken.
Diners began avoiding Kentucky-based Yum's nearly 5,300, mostly KFC, restaurants in China in December after news reports and government investigations in the Asian country focused on chemical residue found in a small portion of its chicken supply.
Yum was not fined by Chinese food safety authorities, but its restaurant sales in the country dropped and have yet to recover. As a result, Yum warned this month that it expected 2013 earnings per share to contract, rather than grow.
Yum said it would end ties with smaller chicken suppliers that have not modernized their operations.
"This is a public problem. Even though China has rules on use of additive products, we very much regret that some people still operated while breaking those rules," Yum China Chairman and Chief Executive Sam Su told a news conference in Beijing.
I don't see a problem. Everyone else is following the law in their country, but we're pissed that the rules apply to us too? Get over it! I'm not sure how I feel about buying foreign products....
We try to "buy american" whenever we get a choice. Oh well, another reason to raise prices.
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