A U.S. district judge refused on Wednesday to stop the government from requiring labels on packages of beef, pork, poultry and lamb sold in U.S. stores to include more specific information about the meat’s country of origin.
U.S. meat packers said the latest country-of-origin labeling (COOL) rule will drive up their costs and become a bookkeeping nightmare. But in a victory for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson denied their request for a preliminary injunction.
Canada and Mexico are challenging COOL before the World Trade Organization as a U.S. trade barrier. They prevailed in an earlier WTO case against COOL, which led to the revised regulation issued in May and now under dispute.
“We are going to be faithful to the rule,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told a farm delegation early this week. “It’s a battle we are going to continue to fight.”
The current WTO challenge will not be resolved until 2015, Vilsack said, because of procedural time frames and likely appeals of preliminary rulings.
The meat packers’ lawsuit against COOL remains alive although Jackson rejected the request for a preliminary injunction. The judge said the industry failed to show it would suffer irreparable harm if COOL was in effect while the case being decided.