What do you assume when you see a “Made in the USA” label on meat packaging in the grocery store? Probably that it is a product of an animal that was born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in the US. As it turns out, that isn’t always the case.
Current regulations from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) allow for the use of a “Made in the USA” label even when a product is simply packaged in the US. Yes, if the animal was born overseas and shipped to the States or if the animal was also slaughtered overseas and simply repackaged stateside. It’s misleading, and the USDA is finally looking to change it.
The Details Behind The New Regulation
According to a new proposition by the USDA, they’d like to clean up the rules around “Made in the USA” labeling for meat products. The announcement was made on March 6, 2023, in accordance with President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy.
In this new rule, products can only be labeled as “Made in the USA” if the animal was born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in the US, from birth to styrofoam tray. The Made in the USA label is voluntary and would remain so if the proposition is set into motion.
What this streamlined definition allows for is more equitable competition in the marketplace. For meat processors that are actually made in the USA (birth to slaughter), the label rings true. But, currently, when another company imports a meat item and repackages it can also use the same “Made in the USA” label; it’s misleading the consumer.
The USDA implemented a nationwide survey in 2022 to screen the general population on its understanding of Made in the USA labeling. As expected, most consumers thought the label implied that meat products were born and raised on American soil. This survey demonstrated a clear need for a revision in the labeling regulations.
Why Truthful Labeling Matters
In 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy. According to the White House, big companies control over 75% of US industries. This monopoly-style situation leads to big players driving prices higher and costing American citizens. Without healthy competition, this sickly cycle continues.
The government is stepping in to help equalize the playing field in industries like meat and poultry products. By establishing clearer rules for the “Made in USA” label, those big players slipping through the loopholes can no longer do so. This is really important, as consumers are statistically willing to pay more for products of USA origin, and companies know it.
This potential rule change for meat labeling will affect Americans in a few different ways. Evening out the industry’s playing field can help reduce costs, which are already too high. Not only does tightening the reins on labeling help those American businesses that are truly US-based, but it also boosts American industry and supports our citizens. You may see less “Made in USA” labeled meat in your grocery store. That’s a good thing for now, as it means the posers have been booted.
You can voice your opinion about the proposed rule on Regulations.gov until June 11, 2023. Keep in mind, we all deserve to know exactly where our dinner comes from.