The Label Says Product of USA. But Is It?
A little-known loophole in meat labeling laws has been misleading consumers for years. If you pick up a grocery store package of beef labeled “Product of USA,” you might not be getting what you think you are. It’s perfectly legal for meatpackers to import the meat from other countries like Australia, Argentina, or Mexico, and as long as it’s cut and packaged in a domestic plant, they can slap the Product of USA label on it and no one is the wiser.
This is especially egregious when it comes to grass-fed beef. Most of the commercial grass-fed beef in this country is imported, and consumers have no way of knowing how those cattle were raised, whether the producers adhered to any kind of standards or not, or even whether the beef is truly grass-fed—or not.
President Biden recently signed an executive order that instructs the USDA to begin the rulemaking process to change the law so that beef labeled “Product of USA” is from animals born and raised in the US. But as with most things in the government, it could be a long time coming.
You might be wondering why this really matters. Under the current law, it means consumers aren’t getting the products they’re paying for, and US ranchers and farmers find themselves at a competitive disadvantage because imported beef can be less expensive for packers, although the price at retail generally isn’t. So basically, the big packing houses make money by deceiving consumers.
What can you do about it? Get to know your rancher and look for a label that says “born and raised in the USA.” That’s what you’ll find on Panorama Organic. Every package of our grass-fed and organic beef comes from family farms and ranches right here in the US—farms and ranches that have to meet our strict standards for animal husbandry and welfare as well as environmental standards to keep the soil, water, and wildlife healthy.
We’ve never cut corners by buying cheap imported beef and we never will. Sometimes that’s challenging. When we’re in the middle of a severe drought, as we are now, it can be hard for our supply to keep up with the demand. But one of Panorama Organic’s four pillars is vitalizing rural communities, and we do that by working with our network of ranchers and their families and paying them a premium for their cattle so they make a decent living.
Does our beef cost a little more? Yes, it does. But when you buy Panorama Organic, you’re supporting a little girl’s dream of one day being an Olympic athlete or a son who wants to finish college and come back to the ranch to be the next generation on the land. You’re also helping to sequester carbon, keep the water clean, and preserve habitat for the other species who inhabit our planet.
You can read about the people who raise our cattle in this newsletter and on our website. We know you may not get the opportunity to visit them in person, but we hope you’ll get to know them virtually. They appreciate your interest and your support as they bring healthy, delicious meat to your table.