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U. K. Enforcing Labels Relating to Country of Origin

03/14/2023

As the current debate proceeds in the U. S. concerning proposed “Made in the USA” or “Product of the USA” labels to be applied to animals or poultry born or hatched and then reared and processed in the U.S., other nations are experiencing similar concerns.  According to a posting in Just Food by journalist Dean Best, the U. K. National Food Crime Unit is investigating allegations of mislabeling.  A grocery chain was advised by the National Food Crime Unit that it was under investigation for selling pre-packed sliced meat sourced from South America as a “Product of Britain”.

 

A spokesperson for the Agency notified the retailer after an investigation and all product was removed from shelves, based on the evidence presented.  The retail chain in question is cooperating with the National Food Crime Unit and regards the incident as an unintentional food fraud without food safety implications.

 

The incident in the U. K. raises the question of how the proposed U. S. label will be enforced with respect to beef.  There is no concern over chicken, given that 99 percent of both whole birds and parts labeled “hatched, reared and processed in the U. S.” with obvious supporting documentation and confirmation of source.

 

Whether the proposed label will become a reality is now in doubt, given the response of Canada. Our USMCA partner correctly recognizes the interconnectivity between U.S. and Canadian production.   Canada has advised that it will oppose the label considered to be contrary to the USMCA.  Mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) was ruled contrary to the World Trade Organization rules and was withdrawn with the U.S. paying a tariff penalty following an adverse ruling by a WTO Dispute Panel.