You're about to know a lot more about where your sirloin came from, whether you like it or not. A new regulation requires steaks and other cuts of meat—with the exception of ground meats—to be labeled with information about where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. Seafood and other meat products have been labeled with their origin country for several years, but it took appeals from both President Obama's administration and the World Trade Organization for the industry to submit to the new labels.
Both the meat industry and the National Grocers Association objected to the rules, citing added cost as one reason to forgo the labels. An estimate from the USDA puts the cost somewhere between $53.1 million and $192 million to implement, while the National Grocers Association expects the cost to be at least $100 million for new signs, labels and labeling machines. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association also feared additional taxes and restrictions from countries like Canada and Mexico, who are the top two cattle trading partners with the United States.
Nevertheless, the plan went into effect yesterday, meaning you'll soon be seeing the new measure at your local Food Emporium. The labels will only detail the animal's country of origin, not the specific state or city, which is slightly disappointing. Knowing your filet was born in Omaha, spent its rebellious teen years in the Texas panhandle and came to its delicious demise in a Missouri field has a certain romantic appeal to it. Still, when it comes to meat labels, the more details the better.