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AMI Statement on Country-of-Origin Labeling

Monday, November 22, 2004

We are disappointed that legislation to implement voluntary instead of mandatory country-of-origin labeling was not passed by the Congress in this session, but we commend and thank those who supported its passage.

Country-of-origin labeling is one of the most costly and cumbersome pieces of legislation ever introduced. First year implementation costs are estimated to be $3.9 billion. While proponents “package” it as a consumer right-to-know law, meat is covered under the law, but not poultry. And retail stores are covered, but not restaurants. The fact is, this law really is an anti-import law aimed at creating unfounded concerns about imported products. All meat products sold in the United States are inspected for safety regardless of their country-of-origin.

Furthermore, there is no reliable evidence that consumers want country-of-origin labeling or are willing to pay more for it. In fact, when the International Food Information Council polled consumers in January 2004 about whether there was anything they’d like to see on food labels that currently isn’t there, less than .7% of the people surveyed named country-of-origin information as something they would like to see added. Three-quarters of respondents indicated that there wasn’t any additional information they’d like to see appear.

In our view, if a company believes that providing country of origin labeling will be of some business or consumer benefit, then we say go for it. Do it voluntarily, but keep the entire industry out of this expensive mandate. That is simply the American way.

We will continue our efforts to educate lawmakers about the problems inherent in this law and about the merits of a voluntary alternative program.

For more information contact:
Janet Riley
SVP, Public Affairs
David Ray
Vice President, Public Affairs

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