A California consumer group has called for all beef sold in the state to carry a country-of-origin label and said US grocer Safeway had been selling unlabelled beef from Canada.

A California legislative committee introduced a bill this week sponsored by the Consumer Federation of California that called for country-of-origin label rules for beef sold in California, reported Reuters.

The consumer group also said Safeway had been selling unlabelled beef from Canada since last autumn, but Safeway said its beef met US food safety requirements.

“Statements questioning the safety of our products are completely untrue,” company spokesman Brian Dowling was quoted by Reuters as saying. “We source our beef products from reputable suppliers who adhere to the highest standards for safety.”   

Richard Holober, a spokesman for the consumer group, said it is not accusing anyone of breaking the law.

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“They are currently selling beef products that we believe should be labelled a product of Canada so the consumer can be informed of what they are purchasing,” he added.

Holober said the issue centred on the fact that Canada has not banned the feeding of cow blood to calves, a practice which could spread BSE, or mad cow disease. The European Union and the US have banned the use of cow products in cattle feed to prevent the spread of the disease.