Canada, U.S. should co-operate on meat products: Think-tank 0
A cooler foreman inspects slabs of beef at a meat packing plant in Toronto, May 22, 2003. (Reuters files)
Excessive food labelling of pork and beef products is unnecessary and doesn't improve food safety, a new report says.
The U.S. Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labelling (MCOOL) law puts substantial costs on American producers by requiring their products be labelled with the origin of the animal, where it was raised, and where the animal was slaughtered and processed, the Fraser Institute report says.
"Canadian cattle and hog exports to the United States have decreased by 42% and 25%, respectively, since MCOOL went into force in 2009," Fraser Institute senior fellow and co-author Alexander Moens said in a release.
"These excessive labelling requirements do not increase food safety or improve health standard for consumers. MCOOL is simply a trade barrier, a product of the 'Buy American' shift."
Instead, the think-tank's report suggests there should be a simplified "Product of Canada and the U.S.A" labelling system.
As well, the report suggests Canada and the U.S. work together on food and animal safety standards, a bi-national inspection system, harmonizing meat grades, and removing all border inspections.
"Regulatory co-operation would create a single red meat regime in which both Canadian and American products can be priced according to their quality and in which the origin of the animals is irrelevant," Moens said.
"This would benefit consumers through lower prices, help keep beef and pork competitive among increasing food choices, and also make North American meat more competitive in the global market."
Fred L. Smith, president of the public policy organization the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said current labelling requirements are costly and "the real losers are consumers who must pay higher costs for what are termed 'benefits' but are of dubious validity."