We have seen “knockoffs” in handbags, clothing, watches, and jewelry, but BEEF and PORK? The USDA (US Department of Agriculture) reversed a “Country Of Origin Labeling” law that permits beef raised in other countries to be “commingled” with US beef and be sold to consumers with a “Made in the USA” label.
But don’t worry, you still have the peace of mind that your lamb, goat, and macadamia nuts will comply with the County Of Origin Labeling Law, or “COOL”.
Why would the USDA, that is supposed to protect the US food consumer and give transparency to what we are eating, change this labeling law and carve out beef and pork from the regulation?
Follow the Money
To get to the heart of the matter, I am going to quote the movie All the President’s Men, “Follow The Money”. The beef and pork industry is controlled by 4 companies, which have 85% of the beef market (JBS, Tyson, Cargill, and National Beef), and 74% of the pork market (JBS, Tyson, Hormel, and Smithfield).
The USDA states the cost savings of not having to label the origin of the meat to consumer supply chain to be 196 million dollars per year. While this savings beef processors reap from not having to label where the beef comes from is not inconsequential, think about the “cheap” beef from other countries that gets mixed into the US beef supply chain. Now we are talking real money!!! This means the supplier of our food can mix beef and pork from Brazil (the USDA just suspended all imports from Brazil because of rotten beef entering the world supply chain), Australia, Mexico, India, Canada, and Paraguay and still say “Made in the USA”. Get a brand name handbag or watch made cheaply in China rather than with quality and craftsmanship from Italy or Switzerland, then charge the price that the true brand does- that’s a huge markup and its criminal!!
The USDA says that this is not a food safety issue, but I believe we are setting ourselves up for the next type of “mad cow crisis” in the US. By losing this transparency, our food chain has no traceable audit at the grocery store and producers have no responsibility to the consumer. I care what goes into my body! What’s next? mix other “proteins” into the beef and pork supply chain and say “real beef”? Just because these big meat companies have lobbying clout, doesn’t give them the right to increase their profits by delivering calories the cheapest way possible through “tricking” the buyer with questionable products!
What You Can Do
I am all for competition, but at least make the playing field equal! Without this law, multinational companies have an unfair advantage over smaller, domestic farmers and ranchers that will suffer from the cheaper pricing of beef and pork. Even more importantly, each country has different standards and protocols in their meat production; consumers deserve protection and to know what they are buying and where it comes from.
Let’s be “COOL” and bring back labeling that affects us all through something as basic as the food we eat!
Marisa usually writes about nutrition, grass fed beef, organic agriculture, as well as sharing delicious recipes; Paul writes about farm work- sharing his stories and experiences, and sometimes... we both collaborate on a story!