The battle continues between key players in the meat industry against USDA’s Country of Origin Labeling “COOL” law, which was finalized in May 2013.  On January 9, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments.

COOL requires retailers licensed under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act to label certain meat products with information regarding where the animal was born, raised, and slaughtered.

On the one hand, Plaintiffs American Meat Institute et al. argue that COOL infringes the meat industry’s First Amendment rights and is wasteful and costly for the meat industry based on USDA estimate that COOL compliance will cost somewhere between $53.1 million and $192.1 million.  On the other hand, USDA’s counter-arguments focus on a consumer’s “right to know” his/her food.

If other labeling laws, which have had mixed results, are any sort of indication, it is fair game which side may prevail.  For example, whereas the Prop 37 California ballot measure to require GMO labeling was defeated in 2012, more recent GMO labeling bills have passed in Connecticut and Maine and are quickly garnering support in other legislatures.

The D.C. panel is expected to rule in the near future.