WASHINGTON — The Environmental Working Group (EWG) petitioned the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide more regulatory oversight on food claims and, specifically, to prohibit “low-carbon” beef claims.

“There is no such thing as low-carbon beef,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president for government affairs. “No food choice results in more greenhouse gas emissions than beef.”

USDA began approving producers’ beef as low carbon in late 2021.

EWG is concerned the low-carbon labels are misleading to consumers.

“Consumers expect that carbon claims have been verified by an independent third party, but the USDA relies on the honor system,” Faber said.

EWG’s petition requests that the USDA require food companies to disclose their carbon emissions on product labels, similar to how calorie counts would appear. The group added that these emissions reports should be verified by an independent party.

“Many of these claims are not verified by independent, qualified third parties, and experts agree that USDA lacks reliable measurement, monitoring, reporting, and verification protocols,” EWG wrote in its letter to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.