WASHINGTON – The United States said it would appeal a World Trade Organization ruling against a law that requires country-of-origin labels on all meat sold in US grocery stores.

The labels became mandatory in 2009. A WTO panel ruled against the COOL provision of the law saying it violated technical barriers to trade. Canada and Mexico, which brought the case to the WTO, applauded the decision, arguing that shipments of cattle and hogs from those countries declined sharply after COOL went into effect.

US consumer groups and other advocates for the law said consumers had a right to know the origin of food sold in grocery stores.

Bob McCann, National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) vice president, expressed disappointment at the government’s decision to appeal the WTO ruling.

“Instead of working diligently to bring the United States into WTO compliance, our government has opted to engage in an appeal process, which jeopardizes our strong trade relationship with Canada and Mexico, the two largest importers of US beef,” McCann said in a statement. “An appeal is the wrong answer and a waste of valuable resources. This appeal will do nothing but escalate tension with our valuable trade partners and will prolong an issue that could be resolved quickly.

“We should be working toward a solution instead of creating a bigger problem,” he said.