WASHINGTON – The US Dept. of Agriculture and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack plan to review the “Product of USA” label for meat which is managed by the Food Safety and Inspection (FSIS). The decision comes following a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) vote that strengthened its enforcement of products labeled “Made in the USA.”
“I congratulate the FTC on strengthening this important protection for American consumers,” Vilsack said. “USDA will complement the FTC’s efforts with our own initiative on labeling for products regulated by FSIS, an area of consumer labeling where USDA has a long tradition of protecting consumers from false and misleading labels.”
The USDA also said American consumers depend on accurate, transparent labels to obtain important information about food. Additionally, American farmers and ranchers need accurate information about their products.
“We have taken note of the many comments submitted to USDA and the FTC regarding meat labeling and understand that the current ‘Product of USA’ label on meat products may no longer effectively serve either of those purposes, to the detriment of consumers, producers, and fair and competitive markets,” Vilsack said.
In 2020, the agency announced that it would conduct a rulemaking process to address the concern that a voluntary “Product of USA” label may confuse consumers about the origin of FSIS regulated products. USDA plans to ask questions and is requesting comments from all parties involved to take the next steps.
In its own remarks, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) lauded the USDA for taking this next step on label for American meat products.
"The 'Product of the USA' label is not subject to source verification, is not tied to any kind of food safety standard, and is applied by packers and retailers in a manner that does not deliver value back to the cattle producer,” said Jerry Bohn president of the NCBA. “This label not only misleads consumers, it is yet another barrier to producers gaining leverage and distinguishing their product in the marketplace. NCBA members have voiced concerns about the potentially misleading use of the label and we thank USDA for responding to those concerns and recognizing that non-source verified labels are a disservice to producers and consumers alike. We look forward to working with USDA to find labeling solutions that represent investments made by producers to continually improve their product and meet consumer demand."