Meat regs questioned

Requiring all beef and lamb sold in the U.S. be labeled "U.S.", "Imported", or "Blended with Imported" as mandated in the 1998 Agriculture Appropriations bill pending in Congress would cost the government $60 million to enforce and could hurt U.S.

meat exports, according to an internal memo of USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The memo also said such labeling would "mislead and confuse" consumers and may violate international trade agreements. In fact, the U.S. is challenging a similar labeling requirement of the European Union which is to take effect in 2000. The requirement is primarily an attempt to protect domestic meat industries. Its sponsor, Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), said he would consider some changes, including exempting processed meat products, such as spaghetti sauce.

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