COOL rule causes ‘significant damage’ to US meat industry

By Chloe Ryan

- Last updated on GMT

It was concluded that there was no evidence that the country-of-origin labels resulted in increased sales
It was concluded that there was no evidence that the country-of-origin labels resulted in increased sales

Related tags: Meat industry, European union, Meat, Beef, Lamb, Pork, Poultry

Mandatory country of origin labelling (MCOOL) in the US has caused "substantial economic damage" to both the meat industry and consumers, a damning new report has claimed.

An economic analysis of the (MCOOL) rule, which was implemented by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2009 for all fresh beef, lamb and chicken, and modified to include more products in 2013, found the cost to industry had so far amounted to $1.3bn for beef, $300m for pork, and $183m for chicken.

The report was written by a group of agricultural economists – Dr Glynn Tonsor and Dr Ted Schroeder at Kansas State University, and Dr Joe Parcell at the University of Missouri – on behalf of the USDA’s office of the chief economist.

They concluded that not only was there substantial cost to industry, but there was "no evidence"​ that consumers actually bought any more meat with a country-of-origin label.

While there was evidence of some consumer interest in COOL information, and the labelling was of benefit to those consumers, there was no evidence of any increase in demand.

"On the contrary, consumers lost because they now face higher retail beef and pork prices and reduced supply because of the 2009 and 2013 MCOOL rules,"​ the authors stated.

MCOOL has been a controversial rule and, since its introduction in 2009, both Canada and Mexico have launched legal challenges through the World Trade Organisation (WTO) claiming the rule was detrimental to trade and consumers because of the increased costs involved.

In the European Union, MCOOL was introduced on 1 April this year, requiring all fresh, chilled and frozen meat from sheep, goats, pigs and poultry to be labelled with where the animal was born, reared and slaughtered. Similar rules for beef have been in place since the BSE crisis.

The legislation does not apply to processed meats. However, the European Commission has come under pressure from the European Parliament to introduce similar mandatory labelling for meat used as an ingredient in processed foods. So far, this has been rejected by members of the British meat industry as being too difficult and costly to impose.

Related topics: Meat

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