Why That ‘Product of USA’ Label on Meat and Pork is Really Meaningless

Some supermarket shoppers want to support American ranchers when they head to the meat counter, so they look for a label that says “Product of USA.” But here’s the deal: Because of current USDA rules, that label is meaningless.

Statement by FL Ag Commissioner Nikki Fried on USDA’s Country of Origin Labeling Enforcement

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) recently announced it would temporarily suspend enforcement of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) for fresh fruit and vegetables in response to COVID-19, allowing products sold to foodservice businesses to be redistributed to grocery stores, markets, and other retail businesses.

USDA Announces Labeling Flexibility to Facilitate Distribution of Food to Retail Locations

April 16, 2020 USDA

USDA is exercising enforcement discretion for a temporary period to provide labeling flexibilities to the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements and allow the re-distribution of food products intended for foodservice to be sold in retail establishments.

USDA Announces it Will Revisit Country of Origin Labeling

April 14, 2020 Sam Bloch, The Counter

COOL hasn’t been enforced since 2016, after trade disputes led Congress to repeal the short-lived law. Since then, meat that comes in from other countries has been legally sold as a “Product of U.S.A.,” or labeled “Made in the U.S.A.,” even if it’s only been repackaged here. Critics say that has misled shoppers and hurt domestic cattle ranchers, all the while benefiting the world’s biggest meat processors.