FMI Reacts to WTO Ruling: Country of Origin Labeling is an Illegal Trade Barrier

July 2, 2012

ARLINGTON, VA – July 2, 2011 – The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) issued the following statement today from Regulatory Counsel Erik Lieberman after the World Trade Organization (WTO) affirmed that Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law is an illegal trade barrier:

“The WTO Appellate body ruled Friday on Canada and Mexico’s complaint against the United States’ COOL law and found that the burdensome recordkeeping and verification requirements of the meat program violate U.S. commitments under international trade agreements.

“COOL has forced the industry to spend tens millions of dollars each year on unnecessary regulatory burdens – all for little-to-no benefit  to consumers – which make it more expensive and difficult for supermarkets to provide customers with the consistent, high quality and affordable imported products they deserve.

"With the appeals process exhausted, it’s now time for Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to address the wastefulness of the program and create a less burdensome system.  In light of the ruling, FMI will be assessing changes to COOL so our nation can meet its obligations under global trade agreements.  In cooperation with our supply chain partners, FMI will make the case to the government that our solution works best for consumers, the industry, farmers and our trading partners."


Food Marketing Institute proudly advocates on behalf of the food retail industry. FMI’s U.S. members operate nearly 40,000 retail food stores and 25,000 pharmacies, representing a combined annual sales volume of almost $770 billion. Through programs in public affairs, food safety, research, education and industry relations, FMI offers resources and provides valuable benefits to more than 1,225 food retail and wholesale member companies in the United States and around the world. FMI membership covers the spectrum of diverse venues where food is sold, including single owner grocery stores, large multi-store supermarket chains and mixed retail stores. For more information, visit and for information regarding the FMI foundation, visit