Eight meat industry groups are suing the USDA over the Country of Origin Labeling rules (COOL) claiming its mandates are unconstitutional.
COOL rules would require muscle cuts of meat to be labeled where the animal was sourced — where it was raised, farmed and slaughtered — and would bar meat processors from mixing cuts of meat from different countries in one pack.
The new rules largely impact trade between Canada and the United States. Previously, meat traveled across borders freely.
Industry groups argue the new rules produce no public safety or health impact but impose a significant cost — an estimated at $192 million — and violate constitutional protection from compelled speech.
American Meat Institute senior vice president of regulatory affairs and general counsel Mark Dopp said in a statement:
Segregating and tracking animals according to the countries where production steps occurred and detailing that information on a label may be a bureaucrat’s paperwork fantasy, but the labels that result will serve only to confuse consumers, raise the prices they pay, and put some producers and meat and poultry companies out of business in the process.
The USDA has largely stayed out of the fight, but did defend COOL by saying the group is “confident” the changes will improve operations and will go into effect as planned.