U.S. bill to repeal COOL advances

(Dave Bedard photo)

Washington | Reuters — U.S. legislation to repeal country-of-origin meat labelling (COOL) laws, which the World Trade Organization found discriminate against Mexico and Canada, passed a congressional committee on Wednesday and moved one step closer to becoming law.

The House of Representatives’ agriculture committee approved the bill on a vote of 38-6, clearing the way for it to come for a vote expected early next month.

COOL requires U.S. food retailers to use labels such as “Born in Mexico, raised and slaughtered in the United States” to give consumers more information about the safety and origin of their food.

Canada and Mexico are preparing sanctions against U.S. goods after the WTO ruling, and House ag committee chairman Mike Conaway said swift action was needed.

“We must do all we can to avoid retaliation by Canada and Mexico, and this bill accomplishes that through full repeal of labeling requirements for beef, pork, and chicken,” the Republican legislator said.

But the committee’s top Democrat, Collin Peterson, said repeal was premature.

“I don’t think this is the best way to avoid retaliation and, quite frankly, I don’t think the Senate will be able to pass a repeal,” he said.

Reporting for Reuters by Krista Hughes in Washington, D.C.

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