The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed a new rule to regulate the voluntary “Product of USA” label claim on meat, poultry, and egg products. The proposed rule aims to align the label claim with consumer understanding of what it means by allowing it only on products derived from animals born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in the United States. The increased clarity and transparency this change provides would help prevent consumer confusion and ensure that consumers know the origin of their food.
According to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, American consumers expect that the claims they see on food labels mean what they say. However, the current “Product of USA” label claim is misleading to most consumers surveyed, who believe it means the product was made from animals born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in the United States. The USDA’s review showed a clear need to revise the label claim to convey the product’s origin accurately.
The proposed rule would continue to make the “Product of USA” label claim voluntary. Additionally, it would allow other voluntary U.S. origin claims to be used on meat, poultry, and egg products sold in the marketplace, providing more options for companies to convey the origin of their products. The USDA is seeking public comment on the proposed rule to ensure that it is in the best interest of consumers and industry stakeholders.
Food Mislabelling In Continue To Rise
According to the Consumer Brands Association (CBA), country of origin fraud is a global issue that affects around 10% of food products. For example, a major fraud case involving Modena balsamic vinegar was recently uncovered in Italy, where the wrong grapes were used to produce this high-end product. This particular vinegar is protected by a special geographical designation under European regulations and can only be considered authentically ‘Modena’ if it is produced using grapes from specific regions. The fraud involved 15 million Euros worth of materials.
This is not an isolated case; authorities are increasingly cracking down on food fraud. Another example includes a recent wine counterfeiting operation where authorities discovered that a printing shop had ordered 4,500 wine labels from a company, not the brand owner. This summer, in France, we’ve seen important lawsuits against retailers and distributors for re-labeling produce imported from Morocco, Tunisia, Spain, and Algeria as made in France. As consumers become more aware of food fraud, there is an increasing demand for transparency and traceability in the food supply chain. As a result, companies are investing in technologies such as blockchain to provide greater visibility and ensure the authenticity of their products.
Photo by Cristina Glebova on Unsplash
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