(ASL) – COOL – Country of Origin Label


Today, we will talk about the new country-of-origin
label (COOL) labeling requirements for meat, some poultry products,
and other food items. What is COOL? On March 16, 2009, USDA’s
Agricultural Marketing Service put into effect a final
regulation that requires certain meat and poultry products,
fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, certain types of
nuts and other products to be labeled at retail to identify
their country of origin. The purpose of this regulation
is to provide consumers with information about the
source of specific food. Are all grocery stores and
restaurants required to label products with COOL information? Most grocery stores and
supermarkets are required to provide COOL information. This also includes
warehouse club stores. Food service establishments,
such as restaurants, cafeterias, and food stands, are
exempt from these requirements. There is a broad range of
products to be labeled. What types of meat,
for example, must bear country of
origin label? Meat products requiring labels
include muscle cuts of beef and veal, pork, lamb,
goat, and chicken. Ground beef, veal,
pork, lamb, goat, and chicken must
also be labeled. It also means products that have
been combined with other food components, such as breaded
veal filet and chicken tenders. For food products
purchased over the Internet, the retailer may provide COOL
information on its internet site or upon delivery
to the customer. Fish and shellfish have been
under a mandatory labeling program since 2005. They also have to be
labeled according to method of production – wild
or farm-raised. The new final COOL
regulation combines the labeling requirements for
all covered items. Package labels are not the only
place consumers should look for COOL information. In addition to package labels,
COOL information may appear at point-of-sale on
placards, stickets, bands, twist ties, pin tags or
other clearly visible signage, displays, or holding bins. Declarations must be placed in a
conspicuous location where they are likely to be readily
understood by customers under normal conditions of purchase. What about labels showing the
same product being sourced from several countries? Take ground beef for example. If you want to purchase ground
beef – the declaration for the meat should list all countries
of origin from which raw product was used to produce
the ground product. If a package of ground beef
contains commingled product from the United States,
Mexico, Canada, and New Zealand,
the label may read, “Product of the
United States, Mexico, Canada and New Zealand.” In cases where meat products,
such as pork, are derived from hogs born
in another country, say Canada, but imported
into the United States for raising and slaughter,
the label may read, “Product of the United States
and Canada.” If you have a complaint
about how things are labeled pertaining to COOL in
your grocery store, please send an e-mail to
[email protected] or write a letter to… If you prefer to speak
with someone, call… For more information
about COOL, visit USDA’s AMS Web
site at… If you have any
questions, Ask Karen, our 24-hour
virtual representative, always available
at AskKaren.gov!

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