USDA Announces Efforts to Promote Transparency in Product of the USA Labeling
01 July 2021, Washington: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released the following statement today following the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) vote to strengthen its enforcement of the Made in USA standard:
“Today, the Federal Trade Commission took important steps to enhance its ability to enforce the Made in USA standard. I congratulate the FTC on strengthening this important protection for American consumers. USDA will complement the FTC’s efforts with our own initiative on labeling for products regulated by FSIS, an area of consumer labeling where USDA has a long tradition of protecting consumers from false and misleading labels.
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American consumers depend upon accurate, transparent labels to obtain important information about the food they consume. American farmers and ranchers depend upon those same labels to convey information about their products that consumers value and demand. We have taken note of the many comments submitted to USDA and the FTC regarding meat labeling and understand that the current “Product of USA” label on meat products may no longer effectively serve either of those purposes, to the detriment of consumers, producers, and fair and competitive markets.
USDA announced last year our intention to conduct our own rulemaking to address the concern that the voluntary “Product of USA” label may confuse consumers about the origin of FSIS regulated products. After considering the many comments received by the FTC and USDA on this issue, we are initiating a top-to-bottom review of the “Product of USA” label that will, among other things, help us to determine what that label means to consumers. We believe this review will enable our upcoming rulemaking on the topic, announced in the Biden-Harris Administration’s Spring Regulatory Agenda, to be comprehensive, effective, and lasting.
I am committed to ensuring that the Product of USA label reflects what a plain understanding of those terms means to U.S. consumers. Throughout the rulemaking process, we will be asking questions, collecting data, and requesting comments. And we will be considering all ideas suggested by the whole range of stakeholders, including our trading partners with whom we will engage to ensure that this labeling initiative is implemented in a way that fulfills our commitment to working cooperatively with our trade partners and meeting our international trade obligations.”