When you see a “Product of U.S.A.” label on a package of meat you should be able to assume that the meat you’re looking at came from an animal raised and processed here in the U.S.
But chances are, the meat or some portion of it was actually imported from another country.
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Services Agency allows the use of the “Product of U.S.A.” label on any beef as long as the meat passed through a U.S.-based inspection plant, and/or was blended with meat from animals that were born and raised in the U.S.
This policy defrauds consumers who are committed to supporting local producers, and who assume the label means what it says.
The policy also hurts U.S. ranchers, especially those who produce grass-fed and grass-finished beef from cattle born, raised and processed in the U.S.
Why? Because U.S. producers can’t differentiate their product in the grocery store from imported beef.
Sales of grass-fed meat are nearly doubling annually. But about 80 percent of the grass-fed beef market is supplied by imports, compared with the total beef market where imports make up only 9 percent.
Because those imports often carry a “Product of U.S.A.” label just because they passed through a U.S. processing plant, U.S. grass-fed and grass-finished beef producers are hit hardest by this policy.
More than ever, consumers want to know how our food was produced and where it came from.
The U.S. Beef Integrity Act aims to give consumers what they want—honest labels. It would also level the playing field for U.S. grass-fed and grass-finished beef producers, whose practices are better for consumer health, and better for the environment.