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Meat Industry Must Comply with Country of Origin Labeling, Finds Court


After the meat industry made every effort to block the country of origin labeling rule (COOL) on packaged meats, a federal appeals court upheld the government’s ruling.

The lawsuit was filed by the American Meat Institute, an industry trade group which represents the nation's largest meatpackers. It was joined by other meat industry groups opposed to the law. But the group's were disappointed when District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruled earlier this week that the country of origin labeling law did not violate the First Amendment, as the meat industry alleged, ruling instead that consumers have a right to know where livestock animals are born, raised and slaughtered. This is the second time in the last year the argument from the meat industry has lost its battle in court.

“Major meatpackers and processors such as Cargill Inc. and Tyson Foods Inc. charged that the law was wasteful and costly,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “They argued that the U.S. already had stringent food safety regulations and worried the law would hurt demand for imported meat.”

Estimates from the USDA found that the cost of compliance could run the meat industry between $53.1 million and $192.1 million. Costs would go towards major infrastructure changes that would prevent commingling of herds born and raised in other countries.

The decision received praise from groups supporting the court's decision: “We applaud the D.C. Circuit decision, which is an important victory for the U.S. public’s right to know how their food is produced,” George Kimbrell, senior attorney at the Washington-based Center for Food Safety, said in a prepared statement. “The court confirmed that manufacturers do not have the right to avoid basic factual disclosures about their food products.”

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