September 26, 2008
September 26, 2008 - In a letter sent to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Ed Schafer on Thursday, 32 senators requested a number of changes to the interim final rule for implementing country-of-origin labeling (COOL) that becomes effective Sept. 30, 2008.
The senators raised concerns about changing the provision that allows products of U.S. origin to be labeled more broadly as mixed origin. According to the letter, it was the intent of Congress that meat product exclusively born, raised and slaughtered in the United States will have its own label, such as "Product of the U.S.," so that consumers could easily determine U.S. product from product that is from other countries. It is not the intent of Congress that all U.S. products or such product from large segments of the industry be combined with a multiple countries of origin category.
Another point involved USDA's move to categorize processed food items, which are exempt from labeling, many foods that consumers would expect to be labeled. According to the interim rule, foods that are fried, broiled, grilled, boiled, steamed, baked, roasted, cured, smoked or restructured would not require labeling. For example, a whole cooked chicken would not require labeling.
In conclusion, the senators asked the department "to work in good faith to ensure the rule reflects Congressional intent and agreement between producers and packers. Producers and consumers have waited long enough and deserve a common-sense rule that accomplishes the goal of letting them know where their food products come from."
To read the letter in its entirety and to see the list of supporting senators, go to www.sheepusa.org/index.phtml?page=site/text&nav_id=06a255e39cc23a7bd55e703587d2d01d