Product of USA Labeling In The News…Again

As we’ve written in the past (here and here), the “Product of USA” claim on beef labels is misleading to most shoppers. You would think when you see those words on a package of beef it would mean that what’s inside came from animals born, raised, and processed in the U.S. But that’s not the case. Imported beef can be cut, ground, and wrapped in this country and carry the claim, despite the fact that the actual product—the steak, roast, or ground beef—came from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, or other places. It’s downright deceitful.

But now, after lobbying from small farm and ranch groups, the USDA has presented a proposed rule to lessen the confusion and is currently seeking comments. The new rule—voluntary, just like the old rule—states that animals must be born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in the U.S. in order to carry the “Product of USA” or “Made in the USA”  labels. You can read more about the proposed rule and make comments here. (Be patient–it might take a few seconds to load.)

Beef born and raised in the USA sticker

The confusion around this wording is why you’ll see the “Born and Raised in the USA” certification label on every Panorama Organic product. Unlike the more common “Product of USA” label claim, this is a certified program recognizing products that come from animals truly born and raised on American family ranches. We have never imported our beef, and we never will, and all of our animals are processed here in the U.S. This keeps small businesses—the ranches, packing plants, cold storage companies, truckers, and other allied suppliers—surviving and thriving. 

Why is that important to you as a beef buyer and eater? Most of our customers are values shoppers. They believe in animal welfare, environmental protections, and serving healthy products to their families. All of our beef comes from animals raised on pasture where they’re able to express their natural herd instincts and fed nothing but grass and forage—no hormones, no antibiotics. All of those pastures are certified organic and non-GMO, and every one of our ranchers adheres to a management plan designed to build and restore habitat for the birds, bees, and wildlife that depend on our ever-shrinking US grasslands. When you buy and serve Panorama Organic beef, you’re voting with your fork for a more compassionate, equitable, healthy, and earth-friendly food system.

Not only does our beef exceed most people’s expectations for organic and grass-fed beef, it’s also delicious. (Read more about that here.) With exceptional tenderness and flavor, it’s a product we’re proud to deliver to your family’s dinner table.

We urge you to learn more about the issues surrounding Product of USA labeling and to weigh in with your feedback. The comment period is open until May 12. 

The Label Says Product of USA. But Is It?

U.S.D.A Choice Produced in the USA sticker

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. 

Beef born and raised in the USA sticker

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.