Coalition files lawsuit against WTO in country of origin labeling case

The fight over labels of origin for meat sold in the U.S. isn’t over, despite a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling.

Earlier this week, a coalition of groups including the Made in the USA Foundation and the Ranchers-Cattleman Action Legal Fund, filed a lawsuit against the WTO in Denver’s U.S. District Court hoping to get a court order stating the WTO does not have authority to overrule U.S. law, according to media reports.

In June, the WTO ruled the U.S. must make changes to a program requiring the labeling of meat with its country of origin. The country of origin labeling law, or COOL, required U.S. grocers to label beef, chicken, pork and lamb with its country of origin or to post signs with the information. It was implemented in 2009, to both positive and negative reactions. Some said the law gave consumers information they were entitled to. Other said it had the potential to disrupt trade.

The WTO ruled against COOL because it led to “less favorable treatment” of meat from other countries. The complaint against the U.S. was brought by Canada and Mexico. At the same time, the WTO reversed a decision stating COOL does not fulfill the goal of giving origin information to customers.

At issue, according to the groups that brought the complaint, is the U.S.’ ability to set its own laws in regard to labeling.

In order for meat to be labeled as originating from the U.S., the source animal must have been born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S.

For a previous Neogen blog post about COOL , click here.

For a round up of media reports, check out the links below.

COOL Act moves to U.S. District Court in Denver – Food Safety News

WTO has no standing to stop COOL, lawsuit says – Drovers Cattle Network

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