Under WTO commerce laws, what "origin" do descendants of imported cattle for breeding purposes take?


Under WTO commerce laws, what “origin” do descendants of imported cattle for breeding purposes take? If China imports cattle from Australia for breeding purposes, is the meat sold on the local Chinese market deemed “Australian” beef or “Chinese” beef?

In the US, all beef cattle are the descendants of imported breeding stock, aren’t they? And that would be true in many other countries as well, e.g. Australia, New Zealand.

I don’t know to what extent origin labelling is regulated by the WTO, and to what extent it’s a matter for domestic law. But my expectation is that the law would require beef from cattle raised in country X to be labelled as the produce of country X.

I thought perhaps since imported beef from Australia is often preferable to local Asian beef, breeders of live cattle for breeding purposes may be able to maintain (at least for a period of time) the “origin” as Australian to boost their profits. I don’t know if such rules exist or if breeders can avail of any ways to call their locally raised herds (descended from imported cattle) “Australian”. I certainly hope not. It would be highly unethical.

I don’t know if it can be done, but American ranchers sell “Kobe” beef, even though real Kobe beef hails from a specific region in Japan.

Well, that raises a different issue. Does “champagne” describe a method of producing sparkling wine, or is it a label of origin? What about Parma ham? Claret? It’s undoubtedly the case that what starts out as a label of origin can, over time, evolve into a production method - e.g. edam cheese, cheddar cheese. And of course you can have disputes over whether and to what extent this has happened in relation to any particular label - budweiser beer, for example, was the subject of litigation over precisely this question some years back.

But the OP specifically asks about labels of origin . Can beef be said to have an Australian origin purely because the cattle concerned are descended from stock imported from Australia? I very much doubt it. And, if it can, it follows that exactly the same beef could also be labelled as of European origin, or some other origin; there are no species of cattle native to Australia.

Thanks dofe. That’s my point exactly. I’m not sure how credible some labelling is, hence my question.

The ruling states (from memory) that the product must be wholey or largely made in the country for it to carry a place of origin. Descendants of breeding stock would carry the country they were born in.

It works for us as we export camels to Saudi Arabia (yeah go figure) and we label them as Australian Camels as the Aussie ones are feral and very well suited to racing etc.

In general, the produce you buy can be labelled “Produce of Country X” or “Made in Country X” if, and only if, 50% of the value added is added in Country X.

It’s a straightforward rule, but it has a couple of slightly surprising consequences:

  • There are plenty of products which can’t meet the 50% rule with respect to any country. They may be labelled “product of more than one country” or something similar.

  • With many processed food products, most of the value added resides in the processing. So crumbed, frozen fish fillets, for example, may be labelled “Produce of Country X” if the filleting, crumbing, freezing and packaging accounts for at least half the value, and took place in Country X, regardless of where the fish came from. Whereas if you buy fresh, unprocessed food labelled “produce of country X”, then the food almost certainly does come from Country X.

Words like “champagne” and “budweiser” may be labels of origin in one country, but not in another, so you need to check up on what they mean in your particular country, or else not rely on them in the assumption that they are labels of origin. The WTO does, I think, provide a forum through which disputes over such labels can be litigated internationally, so that a label of this kind is used consistently in different countries. But this forum does depend on somebody with an interest litigating the matter. And frequently the litigation gets selled by agreement between the parties, not always in a consistent way; as a result of litigation over the name “budweiser” the Anheuser-Busch product is sold under that name in the UK and Ireland, but elsewhere in the EU any beer sold under that name has in fact been produced in Budweis (and the AB product is sold as “Bud”). But unless you know the status of a particular label in your particular country, you can’t treat it as a reliable indication of origin.

Champagne is a protected name, at least in the EU, and probably in the USA. Parma ham is as well. No one can describe a fizzy white wine, made by the ‘champagne’ method, as champagne unless it actually comes from a clearly defined district in France. Parma is a specific place in Italy.

Something more generic like beef or pork or cheese does not have much protection at all. For example I can buy bacon, labelled ‘British’ which was made from pigs which spent the whole of their short lives in Denmark or Holland. I can buy British beefburgers made with meat from half a dozen different countries (when, recently, some of them were found to include the odd bit of horse it was considered a little excessive). ‘Cheddar’ and ‘Stilton’ cheese do not have to be made in those places and Aylesbury ducks may have never dipped their toes in an Aylesbury pond.

The OP’s question leads directly to the whole thorny problem of food labelling. What does ‘fresh’ actually mean? Or ‘New’? Or ‘improved’?

I am friends with a US farmer who raises “Jersey” cows, though he raises them primarily for milk and not meat. When I was a child, I thought that Jersey Cows came from NJ, but I later found out that they are from “old” Jersey. Even then, I doubt that the cow evolved from primordial ooze on that tiny island - they were probably introduced from France or Germany at some point in the distant past, possibly prehistoric.

Now I can’t get the image of Snooki as a farm girl out of my mind, damn.

No in the US - http://countdown.champagne.us/ But it is true in most of the western world.

That is an interesting term, especially in this thread. Americans say “hamburger”, but there is not implication that the product is from Hamburg, or made from ham. Is “Hamburger” a restricted origin-name in Britain or the EU? Or is the use of “beefburger” simply a backformation from “ham” + “burger”, replacing “ham” with “beef”?