Background

Following a Federal Trade Commission decision to strengthen its enforcement of the “Made in USA” labeling standard, Secretary Tom Vilsack said the Department of Agriculture will complement the FTC’s efforts by conducting a top-to-bottom review of the “product of USA” label on meat products.

Under current policy, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service permits meat and poultry products that were derived from animals that may have been born, raised, and slaughtered in another country but are processed in the U.S. to be labeled as “product of USA.” In response to a beef industry petition, the FSIS determined in March 2020 that this policy “may be causing confusion in the marketplace, particularly with respect to certain imported meat products.” The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association explained that the current “product of USA” label is “not subject to source verification, is not tied to any kind of food safety standard, and is applied by packers and retailers in a manner that does not deliver value back to the cattle producer.”

FSIS said it would therefore initiate a rulemaking to limit “product of USA” and certain other voluntary U.S. origin statements to meat products derived from livestock slaughtered and processed in the U.S. The forthcoming USDA review will apparently inform that rulemaking, and Secretary Vilsack said it will consider “all ideas suggested by the whole range of stakeholders, including our trading partners with whom we will engage to ensure that this labeling initiative is implemented in a way that fulfills our commitment to working cooperatively with our trade partners and meeting our international trade obligations.”

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