CHICAGO (Reuters) — Mexico suspended purchases from 30 U.S. meat plants due to sanitary issues, which sent U.S. cattle and hog prices sharply lower on Friday and prompted speculation the ban was retaliation against a U.S. labeling law.
Early on Friday, U.S. analysts said the bans were likely because of Mexico’s opposition to a recently enacted meat labeling law. The law, commonly called Country-of-Origin Labeling or COOL, requires that meat packages in U.S. supermarkets carry labels stating the countries where the meat animals were raised.
Mexico and the U.S. Agriculture Department both denied the retaliation charge. “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.
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