The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected the meat industry’s request for a preliminary injunction on implementation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s final rule on country-of-origin labeling (COOL). The meat industry argued that the rule is costly and provides no health benefits to the consumer. However, in the opinion Judge Stephen F. Williams wrote that the government’s interest in COOL labels is “substantial” because there is a long history of such disclosures and consumers’ interest in knowing where their food comes from. The American Meat Institute said, “We have maintained all along that the country-of-origin rule harms livestock producers and the industry, and affords little benefit to consumers.
This decision will perpetuate those harms.” The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, a strong supporter of COOL, hailed the courts decision by saying, “The court indicated clearly that the history of COOL ‘lifts it above’ mere consumer curiosity; that origin labeling rules have existed for almost 125 years; and there’s a ‘time-tested consensus’ that consumers want to know the origin of products they purchase. COOL’s primary purpose is to provide consumers with enhanced labeling information so they can make informed purchases. We believe USDA’s revised COOL regulations achieve exactly that goal.”