Country of Origin Labeling

October 22, 2008 at 7:00 am

The United States Department of Agriculture has announced that the implementation of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), began on September 30, 2008. COOL became law in the 2002 Farm Bill but implementation has been delayed twice by Congress.

COOL is a provision in the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills that require retailers to notify their customers of the country of origin of beef (including veal), lamb, pork, chicken, goat, wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish, perishable agricultural commodities, peanuts, pecans, ginseng, and macadamia nuts.

Essentially, COOL is a marketing program which ensures that consumers receive one piece of information about covered commodities: the country of origin. It cannot be construed as a food safety issue because it makes no changes in who can supply commodities or the requirement for supplying commodities in the marketplace. All food products offered to U.S. consumers have already passed existing food safety standards. COOL is administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) arm of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) because it is a marketing program; food safety issues are handled by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) or the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) along with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

COOL will provide information to consumers regarding the origin of meat covered commodities. This is beneficial from a consumer standpoint. However, COOL excludes valuable products such as food service products (restaurants) and processed products. These exclusions represent a major portion of the retail market and will change the competitiveness of meat industries.

Listen to my podcast about COOL here:

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