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Utah Lawmaker Wants Labels on Foreign Meat

Aug. 30--A Utah lawmaker wants to restrict or label
foreign meat coming into the state -- a move he said
would protect consumers.

But the plan runs head-on into the U.S. Constitution
and other federal laws covering international trade,
agriculture officials said Tuesday.

Five states have passed laws regulating imported meat, but none are enforced because of legal problems, said Chris Crnich, manager of Utah's meat and poultry inspection program.

Several state attorneys general have determined it
is "unconstitutional and illegal for a state to
mandate country of origin," Crnich told members of
Utah's Administrative Rules Committee.

Regulation is left up to the U.S. Department of
Agriculture, which has authorized meat and poultry importation from approximately 27 countries. Foreign plants must receive agency approval and imported products are inspected again once they reach U.S. soil.

The system doesn't sit well with House Majority Whip Dave Ure, R-Kamas. Ure, a dairy and beef rancher, said he isn't through pushing the matter.

"It's a states' rights issue, and we're going to make
some headway somewhere," said Ure. He intends to bring up the possibility of federal labeling legislation during a scheduled meeting later this week with an aide to U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

"We have sweatshops for our clothes but we don't
talk about sweatshops for our beef," said Ure.
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