USDA Releases Interim Final Rule on Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL)

July 28, 2008 07:00 PM
Pro Farmer Editors


The interim final rule for mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) has been released by USDA's Ag Marketing Service and will be published in the Federal Register Aug. 1. The plan covers labeling of beef, pork, lamb, chicken, goat meat, perishable ag commodities, peanuts, ginseng and macadamia nuts.

The plan published by USDA includes changes that were contained in the 2008 Farm Bill, such as the addition of chicken, goat, macadamia nuts, pecans, and ginseng as covered commodities, the addition of provisions for labeling products of multiple origin, as well as a number of other changes. The interim final rule also contains definitions, the requirements for consumer notification and product marking, and the recordkeeping responsibilities of both retailers and suppliers for covered commodities.

Highlights of the plan:

  • The definition of  "United States country of origin": Under the interim final rule, beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and goat derived from animals present in the U.S. on or before July 15, 2008, and once present in the US, remained continuously in the U.S., are considered U.S. origin.
  • Food service establishments are specifically exempted as are covered commodities that are ingredients in a processed food item. In addition, the law specifically outlines the criteria a covered commodity must meet to bear a "United States country of origin" designation.
  • On labeling ground meat products which often times contain products from more than one country, the 2008 Farm Bill specifies that the notice of country of origin for ground beef, ground lamb, ground pork, ground goat, and ground chicken shall include a list of all of the countries of origin contained therein or reasonably contained therein. The interim final provides that when a raw material from a specific origin is not in a processor's inventory for more than 60 days, the country shall no longer be included as a possible country of origin.
  • As for enforcement, USDA has entered into agreements with states having existing enforcement infrastructure to assist in compliance reviews for fish and shellfish covered commodities. These agreements will be expanded to encompass all covered commodities.

You can read more about COOL:

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