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Too C.O.O.L. for Rules: A Pilot Study of Consumer Perceptions about Country of Origin Labeling on Beef

Applied Research

Kimberly Post
County Extension Agent
University of Georgia


There are many regulations and consumer-driven attributes surrounding the processing and packaging of meat products in the United States, including country of origin labeling (COOL) on beef cuts and ground beef. Under COOL regulations, retailers must display mandatory labels that indicate where certain food products originated. These products are labeled with “Product of the U.S.A.,” “Born, Raised, and Slaughtered in the U.S.A.,” or one of a few variations on this theme. This is not mandatory for beef. Without any COOL measures in place, this opens the door for beef to be imported from any country, further cut or processed in the U.S., and subsequently labeled “Product of the U.S.A.” This raises concerns amongst American cattle producers and food-conscious consumers. How much do consumers care about what country their beef comes from? The primary objective for this pilot study was to determine whether consumers are familiar with country of origin labeling and what it represents on beef. A secondary objective was to describe what value or importance country of origin labeling holds personally for consumers. Results from face-to-face interviews showed that consumers were unfamiliar with country of origin labeling criteria in general. About 66% of participants said they look for local food when shopping, but only 33% look for local when buying beef specifically. This may indicate that beef country of origin is not a priority for these consumers. They also had negative reactions when they learned foreign beef could be labeled as “Product of the USA.” This pilot study will be expanded to a broader participant base to continue to assess consumer knowledge and value of country of origin labeling on beef.

Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC

This poster is being submitted for judging. It will be displayed at the AM/PIC if not selected as a State winner. The abstract will be published in the proceedings.

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Authors: Kimberly Post
  1. Post, K. County Extension Agent, University of Georgia, Georgia, 31635