Fresh meat, packaged for sale in a store in Pittsburgh, Pa.


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"Made in the USA" labels on meat products will soon become clearer for consumers looking to put foods produced in the U.S. in their grocery carts under a proposed rule by the Biden administration

The rule change requires all meat, poultry, and egg products to come from animals raised and slaughtered in the U.S. to qualify for "Made in the USA" or "Product of USA" labels.

Meat products with USA-made labels are often not from animals born, raised, or slaughtered in the U.S. Instead, the labels are affixed to meat products after being processed in the U.S., which may involve nothing more than trimming or rewrapping. As long as processing occurs within one of the 50 states, meat products qualify for USA-made labels.

Consumer advocates say the labels are misleading and result in consumers purchasing non-U.S. products when they think they are buying purely American-grown and harvested meat.

Shoppers keen on buying U.S.-produced food aren't the only ones to welcome the rule change. Farmers who raise livestock start to finish in the U.S. and compete against imported meat products also find the proposal encouraging.

"If it says 'Made in the USA,' then it should be from cattle that have only known USA soil," U.S. Cattlemen's Association President Justin Tupper said in a statement. "Consumers have the right to know where their food comes from, full stop." The group petitioned for the label change in 2019.

The United States is the largest beef producer in the world, according to the Department of Agriculture, but it is also the second-largest importer, with most of its imported meat coming from Canada, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand. Thirteen other countries, including Brazil, also export fresh and frozen beef to the U.S.

Under the Biden administration proposal, the Product of the USA label would remain voluntary.

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The revised standards for labeling aim to encourage competition in the economy and allow consumers to make more informed purchases, according to the Biden administration. 

In the meantime, shoppers looking to avoid purchasing meat products with dubious origins can look into buying meat directly from a local farm.

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