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The U.S. country of origin labeling law requires packages of meat and seafood to tell where an animal was born, raised, and slaughtered. (Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media)
The U.S. country of origin labeling law requires packages of meat and seafood to tell where an animal was born, raised, and slaughtered. (Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media)

Meat sold in the U.S. has to have a label telling in which country it was born, raised, and slaughtered. But the World Trade Organization confirmed Monday that those country of origin labels (COOL) on meat sold in the U.S. violate international law.

Mexico and Canada have fought COOL from the beginning. They claim that country of origin labels put their cattle producers at a competitive disadvantage.

Both chickens and turkeys are being euthanized in hopes of killing the bird flu virus (Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)
Both chickens and turkeys are being euthanized in hopes of killing the bird flu virus (Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)

As the outbreak of avian flu continues to spread across the Midwest, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Friday that the spread of the virus could be caused by human "lateral movements."

The outbreak, which has now spread to 15 states, is thought to be caused by wild birds coming into contact with poultry flocks. Vilsack said it was definitely wildlife that brought the virus to the Midwest via the Mississippi Flyway. But now it appears the ongoing spread of it could be caused by humans, Vilsack told Iowa Public Radio.

"We've had circumstances recently where folks have been using pond water, for example, to feed and to water their birds. Well, that's a problem because the pond water could be contaminated," Vilsack said. "We've had situations where folks are supposed to shower before they go into the facility, but the shower doesn't work, so they go in anyway."

(brian.ch/Flickr)
(brian.ch/Flickr)

After years of bureaucratic delays and opposition from the meat industry, the federal government Wednesday finally moved to require consumer safety labels on mechanically tenderized beef products.

The labeling rule comes after a 2012 project by The Kansas City Star that exposed a higher risk of food-borne pathogens for meat that has been run through mechanical tenderizers at meat plants.

The process, meant to improve the value of some beef products, has been shown to drive surface contaminants deeper into solid cuts of beef, where cooking is less likely to kill them.

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