March 28, 2024

Interpretive Summary: USDA finalized the Product of USA label claim

USDA finalized the Product of USA label claim 

By: Sydney Sheffield

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced the finalization of the voluntary “Product of USA” label claim. FSIS is amending its regulations to define the conditions under which the labeling of meat, poultry, and egg products under mandatory inspection, as well as voluntarily inspected products, may use voluntary label claims indicating that the product is of United States origin. The USDA also announced $9.5 million to expand processing options for the meat and poultry industry. 

“Today’s announcement is a vital step toward consumer protection and builds on the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to bolster trust and fairness in the marketplace where smaller processors can compete,” said USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This final rule will ensure that when consumers see ‘Product of USA’ they can trust the authenticity of that label and know that every step involved, from birth to processing, was done here in America.”

The USDA’s final “Product of USA” rule allows the voluntary “Product of USA” or “Made in the USA” label claim to be used on meat, poultry, and egg products only when they are derived from animals born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in the United States. The rule will prohibit misleading US-origin labeling in the market and help ensure that the information that consumers receive about where their food comes from is truthful. Under the final rule, the “Product of USA” or “Made in the USA” label claim will continue to be voluntary. It will also remain eligible for generic label approval, meaning it would not need to be pre-approved by FSIS before it can be used on regulated products, but would require the establishment to maintain documentation on file to support the claim. 

According to the USDA, a nationwide survey found that Americans are willing to pay more for products with the Product of USA” or “Made in the USA” label claims. Additionally, the survey found that eligible consumers have a limited understanding of the “Product of USA” labeling claim. About 16% of eligible consumers identified the correct definition for the “Product of USA” claim (the product must be processed in the United States; the animals can be born, raised, and slaughtered in another country), 63% provided an incorrect response with most thinking the claim means that all production steps take place in the United States, and 21% said they did not know.

“In addition, the Local Meat Capacity grants are addressing critical processing infrastructure needs for local and regional livestock and poultry producers, ensuring their products get to market efficiently and cost-effectively, which supports local economies, new jobs, and more choices for consumers,” Secretary Vilsack said. “USDA is also committed to boosting the farmer’s voice in our seed patent system and enforcing the disclosure laws on the books as we deliver more and better choices for farmers.”

The USDA funding will support 42 projects through the Local Meat Capacity (Local MCap) grant program. This initial set of awards through Local MCap is for Simplified Equipment Only projects. In April 2023, USDA announced up to $75 million available for Local MCap to fund innovative projects designed to build resilience in the meat and poultry supply chain by providing producers with more local processing options and strengthening their market potential. The Local MCap grant program is targeted to support meat and poultry processors with smaller-scale projects, with a goal to increase processing availability and variety for local and regional livestock producers. 

Learn more about the Local MCap program here and the “Product of USA” final rule here