Meat & Livestock News

‘Product of USA’ Labelling Rule Gains Support and Faces Criticism


  • The USDA’s new rule mandates that only animal proteins fully produced in the USA can carry the “Product of USA” label, aiming to boost consumer confidence and support local producers.
  • The rule has been praised by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and national animal protein associations but criticised by Canadian producers for its protectionist stance.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently introduced a rule concerning the “Product of USA” label, sparking a variety of responses. This rule specifies that labels such as chicken, beef, pork, and other animal proteins can only use the patriotic “Product of USA” packaging if the entire production process, from conception to the meat counter, occurs within the United States.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) has strongly supported this move. Marc Perrone, the union’s president, criticised the previous practice of labelling meat from outside the U.S. as American-made, calling it deceptive. He expressed satisfaction that consumers could now trust the “Product of USA” label to genuinely support American ranchers and workers in the meatpacking and processing sectors.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack highlighted the rule’s benefit for consumer trust and smaller producers. He emphasised that accurate labelling would allow consumers to rely on the authenticity of the “Product of USA” label, knowing the product was entirely made in America. This, he noted, would help smaller producers compete more effectively by offering truthful messaging about their products.

While the rule has been welcomed by various national animal protein associations, which have long advocated for clearer labelling to distinguish domestically produced products, it has not been without its detractors. Canadian producers and processors have expressed concerns, particularly around the rule’s impact on cross-border industry collaborations.

The Canadian Pork Council (CPC) has voiced its displeasure, stating that the rule’s stringent labelling requirements fail to acknowledge the integrated nature of the North American meat industry. CPC chair René Roy called for the Canadian government to address what he views as the rule’s protectionist elements to safeguard market access for Canadian producers.

Despite these concerns, the USDA has clarified that USA-origin claims on labels remain voluntary. However, producers making such claims must keep documentation to support them. The USDA has also updated its labelling guidance, inviting public comments on the matter through its website.

This development marks a significant step in the ongoing debate over food labelling in North America, reflecting the balancing act between protecting domestic industries and fostering international trade relationships.