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A Washington federal court has granted summary judgment to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in a lawsuit filed by ranchers and cattle producers challenging the agency's regulations governing the removal of country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for beef and pork. Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund v. USDA, No. 17-0223 (entered June 5, 2018). The complaint alleged that the 2016 COOL Requirement Removal Rule conflicted with the Tariff Act of 1930, which stated that “every article of foreign origin . . . imported into the United States shall be marked . . . in such manner as to indicate to an ultimate purchaser in the United States the English name of the country of origin of the article.” The court found that the relevant provisions in the 2016 rule were enacted to comply with World Trade Organization (WTO) decisions finding that the COOL requirements of the Agricultural Marketing Act discriminated against imported meat. The court…

The Good Food Institute (GFI), with a group of plant-based and “clean” meat companies, has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) responding to a petition filed by the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association requesting that the agency restrict the definitions of “beef” and “meat” to products derived from live animals. GFI argues that USDA cannot grant the petition because the agency lacks authority over plant-based products, which are governed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. USDA is “authorized only to regulate meat labels to protect the health and welfare of consumers, not to prop up an industry or favor one production method over another,” the group asserts. In addition, the group argues that plant-based or clean meat product labels that “clearly and accurately disclose the nature of the product” do not violate the labeling requirements of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act or the Federal Meat Inspection…

Using a "food impacts" database, researchers from Tulane University and the University of Michigan have reportedly found that high levels of beef and dairy consumption account for large portions of diet-related greenhouse gas emissions. Martin C. Heller, et al., “Greenhouse gas emissions and energy use associated with production of individual self-selected US diets,” Environmental Research Letters, March 2018. The study reported that the distribution of greenhouse gas emissions by food group was “quite typical of Western dietary patterns, with the dominant impacts coming from meats and dairy.” Beef consumption accounted for 72 percent of the emissions difference between the highest-impact and lowest-impact groups. The researchers also discovered that beverages, primarily fruit and vegetable juices, had the third-largest impact in the analysis. A New York Times op-ed argued a similar point less than a week before the study's publication. Citing a paper by researchers from the Toulouse School of Economics on the practicality…

With companies creating plant-based foods that look and taste like real meat—and even getting product placement in grocery meat cases—USA Today reports that U.S. cattle ranchers are disputing the categories of the products developed and sold by these companies, including Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. The United States Cattlemen’s Association has filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) calling for the agency to establish beef labeling that would limit the use of the terms “beef” and “meat” to products derived from animal sources and inform consumers about the difference between such products and “alternative protein sources.” The petition is reportedly aimed not only at “plant-based meat” substitutes such as tofu but also at “clean meat” grown in a lab from animal stem cells. The firm Allied Market Research reportedly predicts that plant-based meat businesses could sell $5.2 billion worth of products by 2020. About 60 percent of…

Europol has announced the arrests of 66 people following a four-year investigation into an organized-crime group accused of selling horsemeat "not suitable for consumption" as beef products. The investigation began in 2013 after Irish authorities found products sold as beef burgers that contained horsemeat and led to a Dutch man in Spain alleged to be the leader of the scheme. According to Europol's July 16, 2017, press release, "Investigators concluded that the Spanish element of this organisation was a small part of the whole European structure controlled by the Dutch suspect."   Issue 641

A New York plaintiff has filed a proposed class action against Dunkin’ Brands alleging the chain’s "Angus Steak" breakfast sandwiches contain beef patties rather than Angus steak. Chen v. Dunkin’ Brands, No. 17-3808 (E.D.N.Y., filed June 25, 2017). The complaint alleges that the restaurant’s “Angus Steak and Egg Sandwich” and “Angus Steak and Egg Snack N’ Go Wrap” do not contain “steak” but instead a beef patty of “minced meat which contains ‘fillers and binders.’” Claiming violations of state consumer-protection laws and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, unjust enrichment, breach of warranties and negligent misrepresentation, the plaintiff seeks class certification, disgorgement, damages and attorney’s fees.   Issue 640

Two livestock trade associations have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) alleging the agency’s 2016 repeal of marking and labeling regulations violates the Meat Inspection Act and the Tariff Act. Ranchers-­Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of Am. v. U.S. Dept of Agric., No. 17-­0223 (E.D. Wash., filed June 19, 2017). The Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF) and the Cattle Producers of Washington (CPW) assert that the Meat Inspection Act requires that meat from animals slaughtered outside the United States be “marked and labeled as required for imported articles” and the Tariff Act requires “conspicuous” marking “as to indicate to an ultimate purchaser in the United States the English name of the country of origin of the article." After a World Trade Organization ruling against a U.S. requirement to include country­-of­-origin labeling (COOL) on imports of livestock from Canada and Mexico, USDA…

An Alberta court has reportedly approved a settlement agreement in a class action stemming from an E. coli outbreak that resulted in the recall of nearly 4 million pounds of beef in Canada and the United States, amounting to the largest meat recall in Canadian history. Harrison v. XL Foods Inc., No. 1203-14727 (Can. Alta. Q.B., order entered February 17, 2016). Under the settlement agreement, the class is open to consumers in Canada and the United States who either purchased XL Foods Inc.’s beef, thereby suffering an economic injury, or consumed it, causing them to contract an illness. Eligible class members can receive a full refund with proof of purchase or CAN $25 without. See CBC News, February 17, 2016.   Issue 595

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued guidance about new labeling requirements for raw or partially cooked mechanically tenderized beef products, including those injected with marinade or solution. In addition to stating that the products have been mechanically, blade or needle tenderized, the labels must also provide cooking instructions to ensure their proper handling by household consumers, restaurants and similar venues. Because mechanical tenderization has been linked to the possible introduction of pathogens into the interior of beef products, certain cooking time and temperature combinations can prevent foodborne illness. The labeling mandate takes effect in May 2016 or one year after the new requirements are published in the Federal Register. See USDA Press Release, May 13, 2015.   Issue 565

Food & Water Watch (FWW) has released an April 2015 report alleging that the scientific research used by federal agencies to evaluate animal drug safety “is very heavily influenced by corporate drug companies.” In particular, the report alleges that there were “virtually no independent, peer-reviewed” safety studies on one drug used as a growth promoter that was eventually withdrawn from the marketplace. “Most of the available research examined commercial dimensions of Zilmax, such as the drug’s impact on beef qualify, and more than three-quarters of the studies were authored and/or funded by industry groups, almost all of which were published in scientific journals sponsored and edited by industry groups,” opines FWW in an April 8 press release. “Many academic journals have failed to establish or enforce rules requiring scientists to publicly disclose financial conflicts of interest, which has allowed deeply conflicted research to distort the scientific discourse.” Citing these issues,…

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