December 8, 2015
WASHINGTON – Following the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) decision that Canada and Mexico may impose more than $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs against the United States for laws requiring country-of-origin labeling (COOL) of meat, Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, urged Congress not to do away with country-of-origin labeling as part of the omnibus process, especially not for commodities like chicken that were not part of the WTO case. The WTO ruled in May that the U.S. requirements unfairly discriminate against Canada and Mexico’s livestock producers, in violation of international law.
“Our surveys have consistently shown that country-of-origin labeling is overwhelmingly popular among consumers. An increasing amount of our food supply comes from outside the United States — not just from Canada and Mexico, but from China, Chile and many other countries. These labels provide consumers with important information that allows them to make informed decisions about what they put on their plates,” said Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives for Consumers Union. “As Congress considers how to respond to the WTO’s decision, lawmakers shouldn’t act in haste. The WTO ruling was specific to muscle cuts of beef and pork. Any broader repeal of COOL standards—like the one approved in the House earlier this year for products such as ground beef, ground pork, or chicken – would be a seriously misguided and unjustified overreaction.”