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.

By Jason Notte Jun 6, 2013 7:15AM
Imag e: Packaged ground beef (© Frank Bean/Uppercut RF/Getty Images)sKnowing where your food is coming from and how it was treated before it got to your table has been a sticking point for local and organic food proponents alike. So why is a new U.S. law requiring sourcing information for meat products causing so much anger?


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.


More on moneyNOW

180Comments
Jun 6, 2013 9:21AM
avatar
Instead of being angry that meat producers lie to the public and trying to change that practice, they instead get angry at informing consumers the country of origin. Way to make us trust you even less, meat industry!
Jun 6, 2013 9:23AM
avatar
I sure want to know where my meat is coming from.  The meat industry needs to stop the whining already.
Jun 6, 2013 9:25AM
avatar
It's about damn time we knew what is (or isn't) in that package of ground meet...To many countries sending tained or cross contaminated foodstuffs here and getting away with it.
Jun 6, 2013 9:29AM
avatar
It's about time! And maybe if we didn't have justices and politicians who line their pockets with Monsanto money, we could have honest labeling on our fruits and vegetables also!!!
Jun 6, 2013 9:28AM
avatar
Fighting this really makes you wonder just what they are hiding does it not?
Jun 6, 2013 9:26AM
avatar
Pitiful excuses for a small thing that can help a consumer choose what he wants or does not want to eat. All food should have labels showing the country of origin period. candy now looks like most of it is made in Mexico. I no longer eat candy. China has a different standard on producing foodstuff. You do not want to know what that is. I do not knowingly eat anything from China and neither does my dog. It is about time consumers steped up and fought these money hungry people who do not care what you think.
Jun 6, 2013 9:39AM
avatar

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. 

Jun 6, 2013 9:25AM
avatar
screw the meat industry and those factory farms/farmers..they treat the animals like crap flat out torture them for months and years before slaughter,...they do not care if their meat is infected or mixed with God knows what other animals/parts and kills us ...screw them..greedy azzholes..
Jun 6, 2013 9:28AM
avatar
This is disgusting.  That's about all I can say.  If I buy hamburger, I don't a combination of "donkey meat," "water buffalo," and only God knows what else... !
avatar
Other products are labeled with country of origin, so should meat be. SAFETY should be the primary concern.
Jun 6, 2013 9:40AM
avatar
Of course meat producers do not want to inform consumers.  Would you choose the free range Utah beef or the beef from China?
avatar

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:

Yum Brands To Cut Ties With 1,000 Chinese Slaughterhouses After Chicken Scare

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.

Jun 6, 2013 9:39AM
avatar
pink slime n did not tell anybody, until it was exposed n no dought, its still going on .they don't care what they sell us, as long as wallstreet is happy.
Jun 6, 2013 9:33AM
avatar

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.

Jun 6, 2013 9:46AM
avatar
Some people will not eat meat from other countries. Some people will. The feedback from the markets will help the industry to make some good decisions as to what they should be selling and to whom. Y'know, sooner or later this information comes out and it's usually in the context of a scandal. Better to have it provided as a labeling protocol than a full-page spread in the NYT.
Jun 6, 2013 9:26AM
avatar
Ok, so this will drive down the demand for meat, and therefore price.  So I can eat more.  Love it.
Jun 6, 2013 9:37AM
avatar
Its not like they have to label the meat "mad cow"
Jun 6, 2013 9:37AM
avatar
Any hones, reputable industry would not fight this, you can have your "meat"
Jun 6, 2013 9:31AM
avatar
"Please do not change the labeling requirements-I need my job," Yes this is what has scared me always. Go vegetarian, or try at least to eat less meat:) 
Jun 6, 2013 9:35AM
avatar
I agree. We should have followed the UK sanctions after they implemented it. 
Report
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
Categories
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?

DATA PROVIDERS

Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

Trending NOW

What’s this?

MARKET UPDATE

[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market punctuated July with a broad-based retreat that sent the S&P 500 lower by 2.0% with all ten sectors ending in the red. The benchmark index posted a monthly decline of 1.5%, while the Russell 2000 (-2.3%) underperformed to end the month lower by 6.1%.

To get a better feel for what led to today's retreat, we'd like to look back to Wednesday, when the market had ample reason to rally, but did not. Instead, it ended basically flat after a sloppy day of ... More

MSN MONEY'S