Food and Water Watch: U.S. Court of Appeals Decision on COOL a Victory for Consumers and Farmers

Statement of Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch 

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–July 29, 2014. “Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously upheld the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s authority to issue rules implementing the Country of Origin Labeling law for meat and poultry products. This landmark ruling supporting commonsense consumer disclosure rules that are, as the Court noted, ‘purely factual and uncontroversial’ ensures all Americans can know the source of the food they feed their families.

 “The Court repeatedly acknowledged the legitimate consumer safety interest in knowing the origin of their food because 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’ to address ‘the individual health concerns and market impacts that can arise in the event of a food-borne illness outbreak,’ according to the decision.

 “Today’s COOL ruling is an important victory for consumers and farmers. Consumers and farmers have fought for decades to get sensible and informative Country of Origin labels into supermarkets to help families make more informed choices about their food. The Court recognized that these consumer choices are longstanding and that ‘Country-of-origin information has an historical pedigree that lifts it well above ‘idle curiosity.’

 “The ruling unanimously upheld USDA’s COOL regulatory authority and held 9-2 that the COOL disclosure requirements were legitimate and that meatpackers did not have a First Amendment right to withhold information about where animals were born, raised and slaughtered.” 

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.