Ugly Word Tainting COOL Labeling Intent?


While Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) is not a new idea, there still seems to be a lot of questions about the rule.  Looking at the past, from WTO challenges to changes in the law, it’s easy to see why that’s the case.

In a recent Northern Ag Network interview, R-CALF USA’s Chief Executive Officer Bill Bullard explained the current labeling requirements:


  • If it is a muscle cut of meat, the label must show where the animal was born, raised, and slaughtered.
  • If it is a ground beef product, the label must include all of the countries where the ingredients may have been sourced within the previous 60 days.


If your communications training leads you to cringe at one of the words above, you’re not alone.  

According to, “slaughter” has two definitions:

  • the act of killing animals for their meat 
  • the violent killing of a large number of people 

Yes, it is safe to say that “slaughter” is not the prettiest word.  In a world of increased emphasis on food labeling, is that really the message we want on a package of our product?
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture, in its rulemaking,” says Bullard, “has authorized retailers to use the word ‘harvested’ in lieu of slaughter.”  
Again according to, “harvest” is a much more palatable description:

  1. the season for gathering in agricultural crops 
  2. the act or process of gathering in a crop 
  3. a mature crop (as of grain or fruit) 
  4. the quantity of a natural product gathered in a single season  
  5. an accumulated store or productive result  

An appeal of the most recent WTO ruling against Country of Origin Labeling has been filed by the United States.  According to Bullard, oral arguments are expected to be heard in February with a WTO decision to come early in 2015.



© Northern Ag Network 2015

Haylie Shipp

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