Update: Appeals Court Favors COOL

April 3, 2014

Authored by: Sara Ahmed and Brandon Neuschafer

You may recall that on January 9, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments regarding COOL, the law that 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 March 28th, the federal appeals court affirmed the lower court’s denial of the American Meat Institute’s motion for preliminary injunction, an attempt to prevent the USDA from enforcing COOL.

In his ruling, Judge Stephen F. Williams wrote that COOL labeling “enables a consumer to apply patriotic or protectionist criteria in the choice of meat,” and “enables one who believes that United States practices and regulation are better at assuring food safety than those of other countries, or indeed the reverse, to act on that premise.” The court also noted that allowing the US a chance to comply with the WTO’s 2011 ruling, which found that COOL was a barrier to trade, was a “public interest factor” in denying the American Meat Institute’s motion.

The World Trade Organization is still evaluating whether tariffs can be imposed on U.S. exports and is expected to release a confidential report on June 20th to the governments with a final report to be released on July 22nd.

As always, stay tuned to Digest for further updates regarding COOL.