December 15, 2003
Dec. 2003 -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued on Oct. 27, 2003, the proposed rule for the mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) program as required by the 2002 Farm Bill.
The rule requires retailers to notify their customers of the country of origin of covered commodities beginning Sept. 30, 2004.
Under the proposed rule, the following items must be labeled at retail to indicate their country of origin: muscle cuts of beef, lamb and pork; ground beef, lamb and pork; farm-raised and wild fish and shellfish; perishable agricultural commodities (fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables); and peanuts. Covered commodities are excluded from mandatory COOL if they are an ingredient in a processed food item (i.e. bacon, orange juice and mixed nuts).
For lamb, the product can only carry a ?United States Country of Origin? declaration if it has been derived exclusively from an animal that was born, raised and slaughtered in the United States.
?The sheep industry has long supported a product labeling rule, therefore, ASI will be commenting in support of implementation in keeping with our national policy, which is approved by producers,? stated Guy Flora, president of the American Sheep Industry Association.
Comments to the proposed rule must be submitted on or before Dec. 29, 2003, to: Country of Origin Labeling Program; Room 2092-S; Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA; STOP 0249; 1400 Independence Avenue, SW; Washington, D.C. 20250.