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R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America

“Fighting for the U.S. Cattle Producer”

For Immediate Release Contact: R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard

October 21, 2011 Phone: 406-252-2516; r-calfusa@r-calfusa.com

Renewed Reports of Tainted Mexican Meat Highlight Need for USDA to Strengthen U.S. Country of Origin Labeling Rules for Consumers

Billings, Mont. – Just months after the Miami Herald’s June 13, 2011 headline, “Much of Mexican meat tainted with steroids,” which preceded an article that stated, “Much of Mexico’s beef is so tainted with the steroid clenbuterol that it sickens hundreds of people each year,” today’s news reports indicate Mexico’s tainted beef problem persists.

Meatingplace reported today that more than 100 Mexican athletes tested positive for clenbuteral after eating contaminated meat while “Mexican authorities have acknowledged issues in feeding banned steroids to livestock.”

As reported by Drovers CattleNetwork in July, the United States prohibited clenbuteral for extra-label uses in all food producing animals under the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification of 1994.

“Mexican beef is being imported into the United States in record volumes, with 2011 imports through August already exceeding levels for all of 2010,” said Mike Schultz, R-CALF USA COOL (Country of Origin Labeling) Committee Chair who added, “We’ve already imported nearly 90 million pounds of Mexican beef this year and if the number of Mexican live cattle imports keep pace with last year, we’re likely to import another 1.2 million head of live Mexican cattle.”

Schultz said these Mexican imports enter our U.S. food supply and the only way a consumer can choose to avoid products from countries with ongoing food safety problems like Mexico is by looking for the new country-of-origin label (COOL) that is required on ground beef and whole muscle cuts of beef sold at retail in the United States .

But Schultz said there’s a problem with those new COOL labels.

Schultz said foreign countries like Mexico and multinational meatpacker associations like the American Meat Institute (AMI) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) pressured the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to include a huge loophole in the COOL rule to undermine Congress’ intent to reserve the USA label for meat exclusively born, raised, and slaughtered in the United States .

“USDA caved under the industry pressure and now allows USA meat products that are exclusively of U.S. origin to bear the label “Product of U.S. and Mexico,” or “Product of U.S., Mexico, and Canada,” Schultz said adding, “USDA kowtowed to foreign countries and to the multinational meatpackers who don’t want U.S. consumers to be able to differentiate U.S.-produced meat from foreign meat.

The USDA states, “Clenbuterol residues can affect lung and heart function in persons who have eaten liver or meat of animals given the drug.”

“American cattlemen and American consumers should be outraged that USDA has purposely written rules to make it extremely difficult for consumers to identify meat exclusively produced in the U.S. so they can avoid purchasing meat for their families that originates in countries with ongoing food safety issues,” Schultz added.

Schultz said R-CALF USA has made repeated requests to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack urging him to strengthen the U.S. COOL regulations.

“Our requests to USDA continue to fall on deaf ears, meanwhile demand for our U.S.-produced meat is being seriously harmed by imports of questionable safety,” Schultz concluded.

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R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America ) is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on trade and marketing issues. Members are located across 46 states and are primarily cow/calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and/or feedlot owners. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.


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