In testimony submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Livestock and Horticulture, NFPA urged Congress to reject the mandatory country of origin labeling proposals contained in H.R.1144, the Country of Origin Meat Labeling Act of 1999. The Subcommittee held a hearing on the legislation on September 26.

"NFPA opposes the legislation's rigid mandatory country of origin labeling requirements," said Kristin Pearson, NFPA's Director of Federal Legislative Affairs. "Such requirements convey no health or safety information to consumers and would do nothing to enhance the safety of the U.S. food supply. Further, country of origin labeling requirements would be too costly to domestic interests, would almost certainly be viewed internationally as a barrier to trade, and may result in retaliatory measures by countries that trade with the United States."

In its testimony, NFPA noted that:
  • Country of origin labeling provides no unique food safety information to consumers.

  • Consumers would bear the cost of new labeling requirements.

  • Mandatory labeling requirements that promote specific geographic locations are inconsistent with U.S. obligations under the World Trade Organization.

  • New country of origin labeling requirements would be viewed as protectionist, and would invite retaliation by other countries.

  • Voluntary labeling initiatives are preferable to new and unnecessary mandates.
"Congress should focus on voluntary labeling to promote meat products of domestic origin," Pearson stated.
For more information, contact Kristin Pearson at (202) 639-5937.

At Senate Hearing, NFPA Supports Safety of Biotechnology

NFPA submitted written comments at a hearing on biotechnology held on September 26 by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. In its comments, NFPA affirmed the safety of food biotechnology, and voiced support for a formal transparent review process and criteria for non-misleading voluntary label statements for biotech foods, in order to strengthen consumer confidence in agricultural biotechnology. For more information, call Brian Folkerts, NFPA's VP of Government Affairs, at (202) 639-5942, or read NFPA's comments on our website (www.nfpa-food.org).