Bill would require country-of-origin labels for meat products

Posted at 3:30 PM, Feb 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-12 19:23:05-05

A bill introduced in the legislature Monday would hold retailers accountable when it comes to labeling meat products.

Senator Al Olszewski, R- Kalispell, introduced Senate Bill 206, which would require country-of-origin placarding for beef and pork retailers in Montana.

“This is a creative way to come around the world trade organizations ruling. What in essence this does is it requires a placard in the window where you can buy your beef and pork,” Olszewski said.

The placards will list one of three options:

  • Meat that is born, raised and processed in the United States
  • Meat that is processed outside of the United States
  • Meat that is only processed in the United States

Currently, federal regulations allow beef and pork imported from other countries to be labeled a product of the United States even if the meat is only processed or packaged here.

Processors have to provide this information for all other meats except beef and pork.

Retailers or processors will have to placard the labels on the meat locker or the glass of a refrigerator section.

“This is one of those bills that causes passion. There are multiple stakeholders in this bill. We’ve tried our best to balance it but I’m sure we are going to see people coming from the consumers with their right to know where their food comes from. There will be people coming from retail or processing who this adds a burden to them. They’re going to probably come against it opposed,” Olszewiski said.

The senator said it is a step in the right direction in making consumers more aware of the product they are buying.

“With the advances of the 21st century technology, people can take fat cells, cells for beef or pork or poultry and they can grow it in a cellular culture and they can create a meat like substance. We want to make sure that it is known and labeled and defined as something other than traditional meat,” Olszewiski said.

If passed, the law would be implemented by Montana’s Department of Labor and Industry. It would require no cost or investment from ranchers.

Reporting by Elizabeth Transue for MTN News