Lobbyists and members of Congress have managed to hold off the enforcement of a five-year-old law that required country-of-origin labeling on meat and produce as well as fish. Of course stores could do this voluntarily. I regularly see New Zealand lamb at my local Whole Foods. But "critics say meatpackers simply do not want consumers to know that an increasing amount of hamburger meat and produce is being imported." Hamburger meat!? Yikes. Ground beef is especially susceptible to contamination1, even from the local market, so it's important to purchase it from a reliable source. It seems critical to know if that source is another country, given recent Mad Cow scares, Chinese food contamination issues, humane treatment concerns, and locavorian intentions. Consumers deserve the right to make an informed decision.
1 With a steak, bacterial contamination remains on the outside of the meat, so cooking kills it off even if the interior of the steak is still medium rare. With ground beef, the bacteria get all churned up inside, hence the recommendation to cook ground beef to well done. When you purchase ground beef (rather than grind it at home), it's likely to be made up of meat from many different cows, increasing the likelihood that one was contaminated. If one's contaminated, the whole batch of ground beef is now contaminated. ↩