Meat industry representatives lost an appeal Tuesday for a preliminary injunction to block implementation of the country of origin labeling (COOL) rule.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been implementing the COOL rule as it was finalized in May 2013, in spite of legal challenges. USDA enforcement through its field offices has been slow to roll out, however.
The rule has been fiercely argued since it was first authorized by Congress nearly a decade ago.
On Tuesday, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously upheld the USDA’s authority to issue rules implementing the Country of Origin Labeling law for meat and poultry products.
The ruling supports commonsense consumer disclosure rules that are, as the Court noted, ‘purely factual and uncontroversial’ and ensures all Americans can know the source of the food they feed their families, said Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food & Water Watch.
The COOL labels enable “customers to make informed choices based on characteristics of the products they wished to purchase, including United States supervision of the entire production process for health and hygiene” the decision said.
The labels address “the individual health concerns and market impacts that can arise in the event of a food-borne illness outbreak,” according to the decision.
The judges ruled 8-3 that the COOL disclosure requirements are legitimate and that meatpackers do not have a First Amendment right to withhold information about where animals were born, raised and slaughtered.