Two Republican Senators from South Dakota — Sen. Mike Rounds and Sen. John Thune — took steps today to help ensure the integrity of American beef. They introduced the U.S. Beef Integrity Act, which would make certain that the “Product of the U.S.A.” label only goes to beef and beef products exclusively derived from one or more animals born, raised, and slaughtered in the United States.
Currently, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service does not require that beef be born, raised, and slaughtered in the U.S. in order to carry a “Product of the U.S.A.” label. This loophole allows beef from livestock born and raised in foreign countries to be labeled “Product of the U.S.A.” as long as the beef undergoes additional processing at a processing plant in the U.S.
“Consumers deserve to know where their food is coming from,” said Rounds. “When South Dakota families purchase beef labeled ‘Product of the U.S.A.,’ they should know with certainty that it is coming from one of our top-quality producers. Today’s beef labeling rules are misleading and allow beef and beef products from cattle born, raised and slaughtered outside of the U.S. to be labeled as U.S. beef. This must be fixed for both consumers and our hardworking producers.”
Additionally, Thune and Rounds wrote to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to offer support for administrative changes to the FSIS beef labeling requirements.
The full text of their letter is as follows:
Dear Secretary Perdue:
We write to express our support for the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association’s petition requesting the establishment of certain beef labeling requirements.
As you may know, concerns have been raised around the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the qualifications for labeling beef as a “Product of the U.S.A.” Specifically, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) does not currently require that beef be born, raised, and slaughtered in the United States in order to carry a “Product of the U.S.A.” label. As a result, beef from cattle that are born, raised, and slaughtered in another country can be labeled “Product of the U.S.A.” so long as the beef undergoes additional processing in a USDA-inspected plant.
Our farmers and ranchers work hard to deliver the highest-quality and safest food products in the world. Americans recognize this, and they want to know where their food is coming from. Unfortunately, without clear parameters, the current “Product of the U.S.A.” label can be misleading to consumers and can result in imported beef being labeled as though it is of U.S. origin.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. We look forward to your response.