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Proposed rule seeks to address consumer confusion about U.S.-origin claims for meat.
Just in time for grilling season, federal regulators have proposed a rule that would establish new requirements for meat marketed as “Product of USA” or “Made in the USA.”
Currently, meat derived from animals born, raised and slaughtered in another country can still be labeled “Product of USA” as long as the meat was at least minimally “processed” in the U.S. (such as canned, salted or cut up). The proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) would require that meat marketed as “Product of USA” or “Made in the USA” not only be processed domestically but also sourced from animals born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S.
HOW WE GOT HERE
The proposed rule seeks to “resolve consumer confusion surrounding current voluntary label claims related to the origin” of meat products. A 2022 FSIS survey found that while consumers across income levels are willing to pay more for meat labeled “Product of USA,” only a small percentage of consumers can correctly identify what the claim currently means.
About 16% of eligible consumers identified the correct definition for the “Product of USA” claim (i.e., the product must be processed in the United States; the animals can be born, raised, and slaughtered in another country), 63% provided an incorrect response with most thinking the claim means that all production steps take place in the United States, and 21% said they did not know.
The FSIS survey found that consumers are willing to pay the greatest price premium when all production steps (born, raised, slaughtered and processed) take place in the U.S, specifically, $1.15 more for 1 pound of ground beef, $3.67 more for 1 pound of New York strip steak and $1.65 more for 1 pound of pork tenderloin, on average.
THE MARKETING PITCH IN QUESTION
As a voluntary marketing claim, “Product of USA” appears on more than just product packaging in grocery stores. For example, meat companies have also used the claim on their websites.
However, it appears the proposed rule is focused only on claims made on labels, which the USDA defines as “a display of any printing, lithographing, embossing, stickers, seals, or other written, printed, or graphic matter upon the immediate container (not including package liners) of any product.” Other marketing materials are not discussed in the proposed rule.
Regarding the use of qualified made in the USA claims, the proposed rule states that such claims “would need to include a description on the package of all preparation and processing steps (including slaughter) that occurred in the United States upon which the claim is made.” (Emphasis added.)
FSIS is seeking comments from the public regarding this proposed rule, and has extended its deadline for comments to June 11. As of Monday, more than 1,000 comments had been filed. You can submit a comment here or mail it in to the address below. And be sure to include “FSIS-2022-0015” on the comment.
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Food Safety and Inspection Service
1400 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20250-3700
TINA.org plans to file a comment in support of the proposed definition change in order to protect consumers and honest businesses from harm.
Find more of our coverage on made in the USA claims here.
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