WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court is allowing labels on certain cuts of meat to say where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered.
The appeals court decision issued Friday dismissed an attempt by the meat industry to block the rules, which took effect last year and require packaged steaks, ribs and other cuts of meat to include country of origin labels. The industry has long fought the labels, saying they are costly and provide no health benefits to the consumer.
In court, the meat industry said the rules go beyond what Congress intended and violate First Amendment rights to freedom of speech.
Judge Stephen F. Williams of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled those claims were unlikely to succeed in court and refused to block the labeling rules, agreeing with a lower federal court.
Williams wrote that the labeling "enables a consumer to apply patriotic or protectionist criteria in the choice of meat," and "enables one who believes that United States practices and regulation are better at assuring food safety than those of other countries, or indeed the reverse, to act on that premise."
He said those goals are worthy of what he called a "minimal" intrusion on the meat industry's First Amendment rights. The industry had argued that the rules violate the U.S. Constitution because they force meat producers to provide information about their products, and that the information is of no real value to the consumer.