Country of Origin Labeling Requirements for Imported Meat and Other Food Products

T-RCED-88-67: Published: Sep 27, 1988. Publicly Released: Sep 27, 1988.

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GAO discussed the merits of extending country-of-origin labelling requirements for imported meat and other food products beyond current requirements. GAO found that: (1) extending country-of-origin labelling could violate U.S. trade obligations under international trade regulations which prohibit regulations to protect domestic products; (2) most imported meats did not pose health problems because the Department of Agriculture inspected them before their entry into domestic commerce; (3) compliance with extended requirements would result in additional expenses for the food industry, the federal government, and ultimately consumers; (4) the estimated costs to food processors and manufacturers in the first year of extended labelling would total from $18.2 million to $27.6 million and compliance costs would total from $750,000 to $1.2 million; and (5) extended labelling would require development of new regulations and expanded enforcement efforts. GAO believes that there is insufficient evidence to justify the cost of implementing, monitoring, and enforcing such a requirement.

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