Posted August 6, 2014
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that required meat producers to label their products with country-of-origin information does not violate free speech rights, according to a Capital Press article by Mateusz Perkowski available here. Agri-View also published an article available here.
The ruling stated that the government has a “substantial interest in enforcing the [country of origin labeling] (COOL) law even though the mandatory labels are not meant to correct consumer deception.”
Even though the decision was unanimous, the Appeals Court ruled 8 to 3 to reinstate the specific judgment by the original three-judge panel of the Appeals Court that decided in March that COOL did not violate the meatpacker lobby groups’ First Amendment free speech protections, according to Agri-View.
The appeals court rejected the meatpacker lobby’s claim that the only purpose for COOL was to satisfy consumers’ “idle curiosity” and stated that COOL information has an historical pedigree.
Advocates of labeling genetically modified organisms (GMOs) believe the ruling supports their argument that such labels are constitutional, according to Capital Press.
“You have a factual disclosure. The court ruled that companies don’t have the right to hide that information from consumers,” said George Kimbrell, attorney for the Center for Food Safety.
The Appeals Court also supported congressional members’ statements by stating that COOL served a “food safety interest by enabling consumers to make purchasing decisions based on such factors as U.S’s supervision of the entire production process for health and hygiene and by containing the market impact of a disease outbreak that COOL can do by enabling consumers to avoid products from countries where an outbreak may occur.”
For more information on Country of Origin Labeling, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.