August 20, 2007


Canada's meat industry to contest US meat labelling laws



Canada' cattle and hog industries are bracing themselves for the possible implementation of US Country Of Origin Labelling, or COOL, laws and may likely contest it in a court of law should the US implement it.


Canada is viewing the legislation as more of a trade restriction and is preparing to contest the rule.


Although the current version of COOL is a slight improvement over previous attempts, the Canadian cattle, hog, pork and beef industries still see it as a trade restricting impediment, Martin Rice, executive director of the Canadian Pork Council said. 


COOL was originally expected to be implemented by the fall of 2004, but due to a long series of delays, is now scheduled for September 30, 2008.


The proposed COOL rules would require mandatory country of origin labelling on agricultural commodities, including beef, lamb, pork, fish and peanuts.


While COOL may work for fish and seafood as the process is very simple and straightfoward, the same cannot be said about the cattle and hog sector where there are various stages of feed and finishing, Rice said.


Another problem is that COOL would mean additional costs for retailers and wholesalers in the US and Canada.


These costs include the costs of  keeping the animals separate before they visit a US slaughter plant, Rice said. Slaughter equipment would also need to be kept separate to show that the rules are dealt with meaningfully, he pointed out.


Rice said Canadian beef and pork would be denied access to a segment of the US market because of this, and such a move would violate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).