Implementation of COOL a Challenge

CANADA - The US-based Food Marketing Institute reports part of the difficulty in adapting to US Mandatory Country of Labeling is that many products are covered by the new rules while many similar products are not, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 17 December 2008
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US Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) came into effect September 30 and the US Department of Agriculture is expected to begin enforcement in April.

The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) represents about 1,500 food retailers and wholesalers in the US and around the world.

FMI chief legal officer, Deborah White, says part of the challenge facing retailers in implementing the new rules is that there is not a lot of rhyme or reason for what is covered and what is not.

Deborah White-Food Marketing Institute

Our congress here in the United States decided that the foods that should be covered by Country of origin Labelling are beef, pork, lamb, chicken, fresh and frozen produce, seafood and then sort of an assortment of nuts and miscellaneous items, that is peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts and ginseng.

In terms of whether or not any of these things should be covered or shouldn't be covered, the Food Marketing Institutes has long opposed mandatory Country of Origin Labelling.

We feel that information on products can best be delivered to consumers through voluntary marketing type programs.

We don't believe that any of these products should be the subject of mandatory Country of Origin Labelling but part of the challenge that our members have in implementing this is it is a sort of an ad-hoc list without a whole lot of rhyme and reason.

For example, chicken is covered but turkey is not, or peanuts and pecans are covered but walnuts and almonds are not so that presents some challenges in and of itself.

White notes the new labelling rules apply only to covered commodities that are sold by US retailers but they do not apply to products sold in restaurants, products destined for export out of the US or to products that fall with the USDA's definition of processed commodities.

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