WASHINGTON – The Food Safety and Inspection Service of the US Dept. of Agriculture set Sept. 17 as the new deadline for comments on a proposed change in policy that would allow only meat produced in the United States to be labeled “Product of the U.S.A.” The Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) and American Grassfed Association (AGA) requested an extension of the public comment period.

The OCM and AGA filed a joint petition with FSIS in June. In the petition, OCM and AGA argue that allowing imported meat and meat products to be processed in USDA-inspected plants and labeled as a “Product of the U.S.A.” is “…an egregious example of the lax importation laws.”

The groups said cattle producers are under “extreme market pressure” and that “…a case can be made that foreign imports of beef impact the price US producers are paid for their cattle.”

The groups want to restore a definition of “Product of the U.S.A.” that was based on ingredient labeling.

“Sometime between April 1985 and August 2005 the ingredient-based standard was repealed by FSIS and replaced with an undefined processing standard,” the AGA and OCM said in a joint statement. “Following the repeal of mandatory Country of Origin Labeling in 2015, global meatpacking corporations began abusing the label by misbranding meat and meat products from foreign countries as ‘Product of U.S.A.’ after moving them through USDA-inspected processing plants.”