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The Demise of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL)

The Demise of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL)

May 26, 2015

Authored by: Sara Ahmed

Digest has been tracking the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (“COOL”) rules that the WTO decided last year violate international fair trade rules.  It was the third time the WTO found COOL to be unfairly discriminatory.

In response to the threat of retaliation by Canada and Mexico, last week, the House Agricultural Committee voted to repeal a portion of COOL.  Under the bill, beef, pork, and chicken products will likely no longer state where the animals were born, slaughtered, and packaged.  The USDA had previously tried to no avail to revamp the rules upon the WTO’s prior rulings.

The U.S. National Farmers Union’s President, Roger Johnson, has been vocal in his feelings against the move to repeal portions of COOL and stated: “The House Agriculture Committee has succumbed to lobbying and scare tactics from foreign governments and multinational meatpackers and inserted itself prematurely into the WTO process by voting for a bill

WTO Rules on Country of Origin Labeling

WTO Rules on Country of Origin Labeling

October 23, 2014

Authored by: Sara Ahmed

You may recall prior Digest posts regarding the World Trade Organization’s evaluation of the validity of the US Country of Origin Labeling (“COOL”) law.

On Monday, the WTO decided against the United States and has held that the COOL violates international fair trade rules. This is the third time the WTO has found COOL to be unfairly discriminatory and it is instigating Canada and Mexico to prepare to impose trade sanctions on US products such as wine and chocolate.

Consumer groups have also voiced their disappointment about the recent decision. Renee Hunt, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farming Association, an organic advocacy group, said: “It comes at the expense of consumers and American livestock farmers…Consumers want to have the choice of where their meat comes from, but, instead, Big Ag’s interests are protected.”  Chris Waldrop, policy director at

New FDA Menu Labeling Regulations to Be Released

August 15, 2014

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New FDA Menu Labeling Regulations to Be Released

August 15, 2014

Authored by: Sara Ahmed

You may recall that Digest covered the proposed FDA menu labeling regulations back in January 2014.

Although the regulations were supposed to roll out earlier this year, the FDA extended the comment period to continue to solicit industry feedback.

Now, as the proposed regulations are in its final stages of review, convenience stores and other small businesses are banding together to oppose their inclusion in the proposed menu labeling regulations.

Earlier this month, the Chairman of the National Association of Convenience Stores, Brad Call, complained that “[t]he FDA got the size and style all wrong for thousands of small businesses when it tried to fit them with the same heavy-duty menu-labeling regulations as big fast-food chains…When it comes to small businesses that just want to offer the convenience of a few prepared food items, let’s hope Congress discovers the common sense to design a solution that really fits.”

The regulations

USDA Prevails at the D.C. Circuit

USDA Prevails at the D.C. Circuit

July 31, 2014

Authored by: Sara Ahmed

Yesterday, a D.C. Circuit decision came down upholding the country of origin labeling requirements (“COOL”). COOL is the law that requires retailers licensed under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act to, among other things, label certain meat products with information regarding where the animal was born, raised, and slaughtered.

In yesterday’s ruling, the Court took an expansive approach to the Zauderer standard and held that, at least in the context of meat labeling, the government can compel commercial speech for reasons beyond preventing deception.

Included in those reasons the court cited to were: “the context and long history of country-of-origin disclosures to enable consumers to choose American-made products; the demonstrated consumer interest in extending country-of-origin labeling to food products; and the individual health concerns and market impacts that can arise in the event of a food-borne illness outbreak.”

Dissenting Judge Janice Rogers Brown criticized that the ruling means “a business owner no longer has a

Consumer Reports’ Survey Confirms The Fight Against “All Natural” Is Well Underway

June 19, 2014

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With 59 % of consumers checking labels, it is more important than ever for food producers and manufacturers to ensure their labels are what they say and to protect themselves while marketing their products.

 In February of this year, Digest covered the increase in “all natural” litigation, noting that labeling cases are filling court dockets. Consumer Reports’ recent study regarding customers’ interpretations of food and beverage labels shows that consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about issues such as GMO, organic, and country of origin labeling. The study focused on “natural” labels and according to Urvashi Rangan, the executive director of the Consumer Reports Food Safety and Sustainability Center, “[d]ue to overwhelming and ongoing consumer confusion around the ‘natural’ food label, we are launching a new campaign to kill the ‘natural’ label because our poll underscores that it is misleading, confusing, and

Update: Appeals Court Favors COOL

April 3, 2014

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Update: Appeals Court Favors COOL

April 3, 2014

Authored by: Sara Ahmed

You may recall that on January 9, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments regarding COOL, the law that requires retailers licensed under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act to label certain meat products with information regarding where the animal was born, raised, and slaughtered.

On March 28th, the federal appeals court affirmed the lower court’s denial of the American Meat Institute’s motion for preliminary injunction, an attempt to prevent the USDA from enforcing COOL.

In his ruling, Judge Stephen F. Williams wrote that COOL labeling “enables a consumer to apply patriotic or protectionist criteria in the choice of meat,” and “enables one who believes that United States practices and regulation are better at assuring food safety than those of other countries, or indeed the reverse, to act on that premise.” The court also noted that allowing the US a chance to comply with the WTO’s 2011

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