NCBA on Beef Labeling
There have been concerns from beef producers about confusion among consumers when it comes to the labeling beef products.
The NCBA's Ethan Lane discusses possible solutions to the labeling requirements and verification procedures in place for beef products labeled as “Product of the U.S.A,” “Made in the U.S.A.,” or similar origin claims.
For several months, NCBA has been studying origin claims in use on some beef product labels. During the NCBA Summer Business Meeting in July, NCBA leaders formed a producer-led working group to examine the extent of these concerns and the federal regulations governing such practices. Although the working group has not determined whether such practices are occurring on a widespread basis, concerns remain that consumer expectations relative to beef product labels bearing origin claims may not be consistent with FSIS’s current policy.
“NCBA recognizes that product labels are a defining feature of the shopping experience for consumers. While the majority of beef products currently advertised, marketed, or labeled as ‘Product of the U.S.A.' are likely compliant with current FSIS regulations, the potential for consumer confusion exists,” said NCBA CEO Colin Woodall. “The core mission of FSIS is to ensure all meat and poultry products are safe, wholesome, not adulterated, and properly marked, labeled, and packaged. While FSIS has policy regarding origin labels, ultimately origin claims are marketing claims and should be regulated as such.”
NCBA said it and its state affiliates are committed to working together with USDA to bring forward a meaningful solution to ensure that any voluntary country-of-origin claims are verified by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) prior to the approval of labels by USDA-FSIS. NCBA believes that beef labels with voluntary country-of-origin labeling marketing claims should be verified through existing USDA framework that is market-based and respects international trade commitments. It is critically important that any changes not trigger retaliatory tariffs from Mexico or Canada that have already been approved by the WTO.
NCBA believes that other recent efforts to address these concerns by Congress or other industry groups — while well-intentioned — miss the mark and don’t go far enough to address the situation.
“We look forward to working with USDA and other stakeholders – something NCBA is uniquely positioned to do – to ensure that accurate and voluntary origin labels are in place to benefit beef producers and consumers,” Woodall said.