Target: Stephen Ostroff, Acting Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration
Goal: Reinstate country of origin labeling for beef, pork, and chicken products.
Where does your meat come from? More than 90 percent of Americans favor requiring a country of origin label (COOL) on meat packages sold in grocery stores. The House of Representatives bowed to pressure from our trade partners and voted in June to repeal the COOL laws.
Canada and the European Union have COOL laws and Australia is considering a law that would require a label to list the domestic percentage of a product. In 2013, COOL was enacted in the U.S. to require that packages of meat list the country, or countries, of origin where the animals were born, raised, and slaughtered.
In June of this year, the House of Representatives voted to repeal COOL for beef, pork, and chicken products. Supporters of the repeal cite potential for retaliatory tariffs by Mexico and Canada and that COOL placed an undue burden on meat producers. They also argue that consumers don’t care where there meat comes from as producers will still follow regulations regarding food safety.
Farm, ranch, environmental, manufacturing, and consumer organizations are in opposition to the repeal of COOL. The legislation also allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) discretion to develop a voluntary domestic label. This is not a viable option, however, as meat-packers won’t use the voluntary label and consumers will not be able to rely on where the meat was born, raised, or slaughtered. Having this information is valuable in the case of a widespread food-borne illness outbreak in helping you make important decisions about your food. Repealing the COOL Act puts large meatpacking companies in control of the information we have about the food we buy.
U.S. food imports from China, for example, more than tripled between 2001 and 2008. China has weak enforcement of food safety standards, usage of agricultural chemicals, and environmental pollution contributes to safety risks of food imported from China. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has refused a great deal of imported food due to problems with filth, unsafe additives, labeling, and veterinary drug residues.
If we allow COOL to become voluntary, consumers will not be able to make informed choices about the food they purchase and consume. This is a particularly sensitive topic due to the extensive evidence of people and animals getting seriously sick or dying, inside and outside of China, from tainted food, medicine, and personal care items. If the food processed in China adhered to U.S. regulations, the added transportation time and costs should make the products cost prohibitive. The fact that they’re not seem to clearly indicate that the U.S. food safety regulations are neither being closely adhered to nor monitored.
By signing this petition, you will urge Commissioner Stephen Ostroff, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to ensure that country of origin labels remain a requirement for all foods sold to U.S. consumers. Our health and safety are at risk and we need to have important information available when making decisions that affect our lives.
Dear Commissioner Ostroff,
More than 90 percent of Americans are in favor of maintaining country of origin labels on our packaged meat products. Americans strive to make informed opinions about the food they consume and deserve to have access to the information on where their meat was born, raised, and slaughtered.
Even though foreign meat processors are supposed to comply with U.S. food safety laws, we do not actively monitor their plants. With all the incidences of people and animals becoming sick due to tainted products coming out of China, COOL laws are a necessity.
We, the undersigned, urge you to maintain and enforce country of origin labeling laws. Our health, safety, and lives are at risk.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Food Safety News