The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has posted for public comment the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) and American Grassfed Association (AGA) petition for policy change on the use of the “Product of U.S.A.” label for meat and meat products. OCM and AGA are calling on farmers, ranchers and consumers to file their individual comments and letters of support by the FSIS deadline of September 17, 2018.
OCM and AGA filed the petition for the change in policy to ensure only U.S. domestic meat products can be labeled “Product of U.S.A.” The current policy allows foreign meat to be imported into the U.S. and bear the label “Product of U.S.A.” if it simply passes through a USDA-inspected plant. The FSIS policy needs to be clarified to stop global interests from profiting from mislabeling the country of origin of their meat and to ensure America’s family farmers and ranchers are given a fair opportunity to market their products to American consumers who care where their food comes from and want to support products made in America.
Note: The Comment Period is Now Closed. We await a decision from USDA.
Comments May Be Sent to the Following:
Submit online: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=FSIS-2018-0024
Submit my mail:
Mailed comments must reference petition number 18-05.
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Food Safety and Inspection Service
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-3700
Attention: Ms. Mary Porretta, Petitions Manager
Office of Policy and Program Development
Though it’s important that each letter of support is unique, please feel free to consider the following points while drafting your support letter:
- The current FSIS labeling policy for “Product of U.S.A.” grants foreign countries and foreign interests unfair marketing opportunity that harms America’s family farmers by allowing foreign entities to receive a premium from consumers who unwittingly believe they are buying meat and meat products with ingredients that originate domestically.
- Research has shown that as many as 93% of Americans want to know where their food comes from and 75% of Americans indicate the source of origin of their food is a major attribute when making their food choices. The current FSIS policy misleads Americans when they are making their purchases and denies America’s family farmers these food dollars. FSIS food labeling policy for “Product of U.S.A.” should be based on the source of the ingredients.
- The current FSIS labeling policy for “Product of U.S.A.” deceives America’s consumers who have clearly demonstrated they will pay a premium for meat and meat products sourced domestically by misbranding foreign meat and meat products as “Product of U.S.A.”
- Australia is a leading beef exporter into the U.S. and has just implemented a mandatory retail Country of Origin Labeling requirement. The current U.S. policy that allows Australian beef to pass through a USDA inspected facility and then to be labeled “Product of U.S.A.” clearly gives Australian ranchers and foreign interests a grossly unfair marketing advantage over American family farmers by allowing these foreign interests to receive a premium in both the U.S. and Australian market.
- Both the Federal Meat Inspection Act and FSIS regulations clearly establish that meat and meat product labels must not mislead the consumer nor must they be false. FMIA states that meat or meat food products shall be “misbranded” if its “labeling is false or misleading in any particular.” The current FSIS policy on labeling “Product of U.S.A.” must be clarified to correctly reflect the federal law ensuring U.S. consumers are not misled or deceived.
- In passing the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA), Congress acknowledged the financial harm misbranding and mislabeling causes America’s livestock producers and clearly stated this as a key basis for the adoption of FMIA.
American Grassfed Association is national membership-based multi-species organization dedicated to protecting and promoting grassfed producers and grassfed products through education, marketing, research, and government relations.
Organization for Competitive Markets is a national membership-based research and advocacy organization working for open and competitive markets and fair trade in America’s food and agricultural sectors.