Posted April 1, 2014
On Friday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the meat industry’s request for an injunction to block USDA’s Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations, according to an article by The Hill available here.  The opinion is available here.
The court concluded that the goals of the regulations are worthy of a “minimal” intrusion on the meat industry’s First Amendment rights, according to an article by the Associated Press available here
Judge Stephen F. Williams stated, “Obviously it enables a consumer to apply patriotic or protectionist criteria in the choice of meat…And it enables one who believes that United States practices and regulations are better at assuring food safety than those of other countries, or indeed the reverse, to act on that premise.”
The lawsuit, American Meat Institute, et al. v. U.S. Department of Agriculture, was filed on July 8, 2013, alleging that the COOL final rule violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, violates the Agricultural Marketing Act, and violates the Administrative Procedure Act.  The complaint is available here.  The District Court Judge denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction to stop implementation of the final rule on September 11.  The memorandum opinion is available here.  Plaintiffs, then, appealed.
The COOL final rule, available here, became effective on May 23, 2013 and modified certain provisions of the COOL regulations after the World Trade Organization (WTO) found that aspects of the regulations violated U.S. trade obligations.  The final rule requires labels on certain cuts of meat to provide information on where it was born, raised, and slaughtered. 


For background information on the lawsuit and WTO ruling, recent posts from this blog are available hereand here.  For more information on COOL, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.