Mexico has banned 30 United States meat plants for being unsanitary. That ban sent hog and cattle prices spiraling downward sharply in the US. It is thought that the action comes in retaliation against a U.S. labeling law.
The labeling law, Country-of-Origin Labeling requires meat packages in the United States to carry a label of what country meat is raised in.
“Countries would go through dispute settlement under either (the North American Free Trade Agreement) or (World Trade Organization) — not use the action of plant-by-plant delistment,” said Amanda Eamich of USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Many of the plants now banned in Mexico include the largest United States meat processing centers. Mexico is the largest importer of American meat. By Monday though it is thought that Mexico will resume purchasing the meat.
Mexico states that the problems do not stem from the labelling law. Rather they state that the meat plants fall short on their standards of packaging, labeling and transportation conditions.
Both Mexico and Canada opposed the newly instated labeling rules. Both countries fear that the labeling will reduce in a buying out of country meat.
“It appears they (Mexican officials) are using this to send a signal to our government that they don’t like COOL,” Don Roose, analyst at U.S. Commodities, said earlier on Friday.
Earlier this year, Mexico had warned many U.S. meat plants of alleged “point of entry violations” and Friday’s suspensions may have been related to that, Jim Herlihy, spokesman for the U.S. Meat Export Federation, said early on Friday.