Bills Calls for Meat to be Labeled by Origin

WASHINGTON, D.C. - An ordinary trip to the supermarket meat department could turn into an experience in international comparison-shopping under House legislation scheduled to be debated today that for the first time would require meat products to be labeled by their country of origin.
calendar icon 26 July 2007
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The farm bill to be debated in the House today would require meat products to be labeled with their country or countries of origin.

The farm bill House members will consider includes a provision mandating that meat -- including beef, pork and lamb -- include a label stating where it came from. Only meat from animals born, raised and slaughtered in the United States would be eligible for a domestic label.

The measure aims to enforce a five-year-old law that has already been implemented for seafood but was delayed after meat packers, pork producers and grocery chains claimed it would create a costly bureaucratic and record-keeping nightmare. The issue reemerged this year after reports of safety problems with food and products from China spurred American consumers to seek more information about what they eat.

"We think consumers have a right to know, so they can make informed buying decisions," said Sally Greenberg, senior product safety counsel at Consumers Union. "Some consumers won't care, but many others do. It is time to put that law into practice."

Last week, the White House established a working group to review the safety of food. But the Bush administration has threatened to veto the farm bill -- and, with it, the meat-labeling measure -- because of a separate dispute with Democrats over farm subsidies. [Details, Page A6.]

Yesterday, Public Citizen issued a report questioning proposed free-trade agreements with Peru, Panama, Colombia and South Korea that the group says would make it easier for those countries to export food to the United States.

Source: WashingtonPost
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