This morning I watched a YouTube clip about American country-of-origin labelling. It’s a clean and clear explanation of COOL’s advantages to U.S. consumers. The material is well crafted and makes perfect sense at the consumer level, aimed as it is at a grocery buying target audience.
There is reference to COOL labelling on meat from other countries, notably Canada and Mexico. But of course there is no mention of the havoc COOL has caused to the Canadian meat industry. Not that it should, given the purpose of the material, but it still sticks in the craw. You can watch the YouTube clip here.
The issue with COOL, from the Canadian point of view, is that it doesn’t comply with world trade rules. Under COOL, meat can only be labelled as U.S. product if the originating animal is born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S. Given those requirements, it discourages American buyers and packers from buying Canadian animals. Labelling demands require them to keep the animals and resulting meat separate from U.S. product, and label them accordingly. Who needs that extra hassle and expense?
But trade rules say that when imported goods are transformed into another form, they are deemed to originate in the country where the transformation occurred.
A Canadian-born animal slaughtered in the U.S. has inarguably undergone a transformation — from livestock into meat.
Is it hair-splitting? Not when the difference so drastically affects Canadian exports of cattle and hogs, thereby harming the livestock industry.