WTO rules against COOL and sides with Canada and Mexico
From Food In Canada
Not for the first time or the second or third, but for the fourth time the World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled against the U.S. on its Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) rule. On May 18, the WTO handed down its final and fourth ruling, which reaffirms Canada’s position that the COOL measure is discriminatory against Canadian cattle and hogs.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) says in response to this latest ruling, and in accordance with international trade rules, Canada will seek WTO authorization to retaliate against U.S. exports.
The North American Meat Institute also welcomed the WTO’s ruling. The institute said in a statement that “after years of grappling with this costly and onerous rule – a rule that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s own economic analysis says is a burden on livestock producers, meat packers and processors with no consumer benefit – it is clear that repealing the statute is the best step forward.”
According to the institute, new research from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation shows country of origin information comes in ninth in a list of 11 pieces of labelling information that consumers use when choosing a food product. In addition, says the institute, the percentage of consumers saying they use COOL labels has declined from 29 per cent in 2013 to 26 per cent in 2014 to just 15 per cent in 2015. In contrast, half of consumers look for expiration dates and the nutrition facts panel.