| PHOTO BY SEAN LOCKE, ISTOCK
Mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) is scheduled to take effect March 16, and while the full text of the rule won’t be published in the Federal Register until Jan. 15, final details were released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Jan. 12. The ruling has been criticized by consumer interest groups, who contend that a large majority of the meats, fish and produce available for purchase will be exempt from the guidelines, including:
- Anything cooked, cured or smoked
- Food service establishments
- Items that have been combined with other commodities
Also, processors in the United States that handle meat from both domestic and foreign sources can carry a “multicountry designation.” In other words, a package of ground beef may sport a sticker that says, “Contains meat from the United States, Canada and Mexico.” For official information regarding COOL from the USDA, click here. A statement from consumer advocate Food and Water Watch can be read here.