USDA proposes new requirements for “Product of USA” label claim

Product of the USA label news graphic
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A proposal by the U.S. Department of Agriculture would change the rules on what foods can be labeled ‘Product of USA.

Current laws contain loopholes that allow foreign-raised livestock and produce to receive that designation, which farm advocates say is a disadvantage to U.S. ag producers.

The new rule would require the “Product of USA” label to only be used on meat, poultry, and eggs derived from animals born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in the United States.

Dee Laninga – senior writer with the group Farm Action – said current law allows that label to be used if the product simply passes through a U.S. inspected plant, which is tantamount to a huge loophole. “That allows imported meat to be imported by multinational corporations,” said Laninga, “repackaged, and then passed off as higher-quality product raised by U.S. farmers and ranchers.”

The new rule, Laninga said, would require meat labeled as “Product of USA” to have been born, raised, and slaughtered on American soil.

Langinga said the proposed rule change would level the playing field for U.S. farmers and also educate consumers about where their food is coming from, all through the label. “When you think about it, food labels are a critical component in our food system,” said Laninga. “They connect eaters with farmers. Really it is the most direct communication most of us eaters have with farmers. When we’re shopping at the grocery store, we can’t ask a farmer, ‘How did you raise this? Where did it come from?’ The label has to do that job.”

The USDA will take public comment for sixty days after the proposed rule change is published in the Federal Register.

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