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Country of Origin Labeling

Compiled by the Staff of the Ruth Emerson Research Library (2013 and previous years by the American Institute of Baking).

The following document is a compilation of general information on country of origin labeling and related topics. These citations were recovered from AIB in-house databases, and represent original work by AIB personnel. Every effort is made to ensure accuracy, but AIB accepts no liability for content of this resource list.

2012-2013 Journal Citations

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2010 Journal Citations

"Reading wonders." (June 2010) Prepared Foods. (179) 6:40.  The 2010 Consumer Food Safety Survey by Deloitte LLC found that consumer concern for food safety issues has fallen 17% since 2008. 65% of survey participants report concerns about the safety of their food, and 90% perceived that food recalls were on the rise. Other consumer behaviors tracked in the survey include: noted country-of-origin-labeling (51%); frequently read ingredient list (53%); understood over 75% of the ingredient list (45%); understood half of less of ingredients on list (55%). Includes a chart entitled "Making the Recall: Entities responsible for communicating product recall information."

2009 Journal Citations

Clapp, Stephan. “Vilsack asks industry to comply with voluntary COOL guidance.” (March 2009) Food Traceability Report. (9)3:1.9-10.   Description of the Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's letter to meat processors asking them to "voluntarily comply with congressional intent in country-of-origin labeling (COOL) legislation." Despite the Obama administration’s freeze of regulatory actions, Vilsack’s Feb. 20 letter announced that COOL regulations would take effect on March 16, 2009. This correspondence includes additional measures for meat suppliers, not required by the COOL rules in which he asks for voluntary compliance. The letter and news release can be viewed at www.ams.usda.gov/cool.

Clapp, Staphan & Huffman, Jason. (February 2009) Food Traceability Report. (9) 2:1,9-10.

The Obama administration released a memo on Inauguration Day which put on hold impending regulatory changes, including the COOL regulation until further review. The memo states "regulatory agencies must at least temporarily withdraw all proposed or final regulations that have yet to be sent to the Federal Register." Article also summarizes the criticism of COOL regulation by the Consumer Federation of America and Food & Water Watch, which cites "serious loopholes" in the final rule for Cool.

 

“COOL isn’t cool.” (February/March 2009) Food Quality. (16)1:16-17.

The final details on the COOL program were announced on January 12, 2009 by the FDA. Some criticized the limitations of the COOL regulation, especially the exemptions of mixed foods, cooked/cured/smoked foods, and products from food service organization. "A retail product containing two different types of covered commodities- a bag of peas and carrots, for example- will be considered a processed food item and, therefore, not subject to mandatory COOL."The final ruling on COOL can be accessed at www.ams.usda.gov.

 

Nachay, Karen. “Commodities get cool.” (March 2009) Food Technology.(63) 3:42-46.

Country-of-origin labeling, or COOL, requires food processors to provide more information to consumers about certain commodities. Some controversy surrounds this mandatory labeling reform, as processors and retailers claim that this will significantly increase food costs. Includes detailed explanation of the COOL regulations concerning: perishable agricultural commodities, nuts and ginseng; ground meat; fish and shellfish; and commingled commodities. The USDA will issue civil penalties up to $1000 per violation to retailers/suppliers not in compliance with COOL regulations. "The individuals interviews in the article emphasize that COOL is not a food safety system and does not indicate that products from one country are safer than ones from another country."

 

“Sec. Vilsack to change COOL labels.” (February 23, 2009) Food Institute Report. (82) 8:11-12.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that country of origin labeling requirements proposed under the Bush administration will be adapted. Vilsack has asked the meat industry to voluntarily follow stricter guidelines. If they refuse, new regulations will be created. Food retailers have criticized the Obama administrations plan to increase COOL measures, which they insist will create higher prices.

2008 Journal Citations:

   

Abkes, John. “COOL compliance making you sweat?” (August/September 2008) Food Quality. (15) 4:46-47.

September 30, 2008 marks the deadline for fresh produce and meat products to be country of origin labeling (COOL) compliant. While the food industry has protested these drastic changes, consumers prefer COOL meat 75% and most are willing to pay more for such a label. This article discusses the challenges of accurate origin codes, data exchange, tracking and documentation. The current legislation requires that food retailers and manufacturers: inform consumers of the country of origin for muscle cuts of beef, lamb, and pork; farm-raised fish and shellfish; wild fish and shellfish; fruits, vegetables, and peanuts via a label, stamp, mark, placard, or other clear and visible sign on the covered commodity, or on the package, display, holding unit, or bin containing the commodity at the final point of consumption."

 

“Fair Assessment.” (February 2008)Prepared Foods. (177) 2:11.

Tracking products with fair trade positioning is becoming increasingly important, increasing 900% since 2003. Article includes chart of new product with fair trade positioning, the most numerous in chocolate confectionery, coffee, and iced tea products.

 

Fletcher, Erin. “Going local.” (January/February 2008) Bakers Journal. (68) 1:24-26.

The Green Movement has highlighted the importance of local production of foods, and "every large grocery chain is working on a strategy to highlight local products." Another reason for this trend is ingredient traceability, in this time of concern regarding international food safety standards.

 

Nachay, Karen. “COOL now mandatory.” (November 2008). Food Technology. (62)11:10.

Country of Origin Labeling (Cool) regulations took effect on Sept. 30, 2008. The regulations apply to the following products: "muscle cuts of beef, lamb, chicken, goat, and pork; ground beef, lamb, chicken, goat, and pork; fish and shellfish; fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables; peanuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts; and ginseng."

 

Sjeveren, Jay. “Ohio Senator Stumps for Food Traceability Bill.”  (September 16, 2008)  Food Business News  (4) 16: 34.

Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio introduced the Food Tracking Improvement Act. The act would allow tainted food products to be traced to the source.  If passed the bill would make available $40 million dollars that would  be used to establish a national traceability program and would establish and 13-member advisory committee that would included consumer advocates and industry leaders. Highlights key points of the bill.

 

Toops, D. “Ingredients from where?” (February 2008) Food Processing. (69) 2:22-27.

An increasing amount of ingredients are being imported, but "Food labels must indicate the list of ingredients and where the end product is made, but there's no requirement to list the country of origin of the ingredients." This article outlines what regulations exist on imports, and the lack of FDA authority, and how many any which type of products are examined before entering the country. Responsibility for the safety of ingredients imported falls on the shoulders of the food processors. Article explains what the costs would be for an improved system.

 

2004 Journal Citations:

 

Giese, James.  “Country-of-Origin Comment Period Extended.”  (2004)Food Technology (58) 1:17.

The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has extended their deadline from October 30, 2003 to February 27, 2004 for the proposed rule for mandatory country of origin labeling program. 

 

“Labeling Law Declared Costly.”  (2004)Food Product Design (13) 10:25.

At a conference called “Agriculture at the Crossroads” that was sponsored by AgRelations Council, the senior vice president of regulatory affairs and general counsel for the American Meat Institute, Mark Dopp, reported that the mandatory country of origin labeling is expensive.  It also does not have benefits and is intellectually dishonest.  He estimates that the first year costs for the USDA would be $3.9 billion for all commodities. The costs outweigh the potential benefits.  Until September 30, 2004, the labeling program is voluntary at which time it will be required for fresh red-meat products, seafood, produce, and peanuts.

 

2003 Journal Citations:

 

Banasiak, Karen.  “Group Calls For Voluntary Country-of-Origin Labeling.”  (2004) Food Technology (58) 3:8.

Associations are calling for a plan to develop a program for providing country of origin labeling for produce, beef, pork, and seafood.  The group is made of United Fruit and Vegetable Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, National Fisheries Institute, Food Marketing Institute, and National Grocers Association. Congress delayed the law until 2006.

 

“Country Labeling Delayed Two Years.”  (2004) Food Processing (65) 2:14.

The Senate decided to delay the country of origin labeling rule by two years.  This means that it will not go into effect for most foods until September 30, 2006.  Farm-raised and wild-caught fish must start labeling September 30, 2004.  Food and grocery associations were happy about the delay so that they can have time to repeal the law.

 

“Food Industry Chafes at Latest Plan for Country-of Origin Labeling Rules.” (2003: November 11) Milling & Baking News (82) 37: 37.

                Food industry groups do not feel the USDA’s proposed country of origin labels are a good thing.    The cost for implementing the labels is stabled to be $3.9 billion in the first year and could cost as much as $500 million annually according to estimates reported from the USDA.  The final problem with the proposed rules would be the September 2004 implementation date.   

 

Hagstrom, Jerry.  “USDA Reportedly Preparing Beef Label for Japan Exports.”  (2003) CongressDaily7/14/2003:5.

Japan wants the U.S. to put country-of-origin labels on meat being imported into Japan to ensure that the meat did not come from Canada.  The Agricultural Department is currently working on the plan to meet this demand.  Canada recently found a cow with mad cow disease and Japan is worried about the disease being imported into its country.  Japan gave the U.S. a deadline of September 1, 2003. By value, the U.S. is Japan’s top beef importer.  The Bush administration is currently opposed to labeling meat with the country of origin.  Meat producers are saying that this is impossible because of all the meat that they imported from Canada.  The Agricultural Department is currently working on the entire situation.

 

Hecht, Chuck and Tim Aughenbaugh. “Verifying Product and Process Authenticity.”  (2003) Food Technology(57) 6:32-36.

The difference between an Identity Preservation (IP) program and authenticity testing is that an IP program is designed to make sure that the production and process systems will deliver authentic material while authenticity testing is used to determine at the end of the line that a product label is accurate.  The IP program and authenticity testing have created a new field called authenticity management.  The Farm bill now requires retailers to provide country-of-origin labeling for all “covered commodities.”  These include genetics, planting, growing, inspections, environment, harvest, storage, processing, and to the retailer.  The retailer gets all of this information so that they can accurately display the country-of-origin information.

 

Joy, David.  “Cool Reception for Country of Origin Labeling.”  (2003)Food Processing (64) 11:17-18.

Country of Origin Labeling is not a new concept but the way it is being applied is new. Country of Origin Labeling is being required on certain food products and comes from the 2002 Farm Bill.  There are exceptions to this rule such as foods that are natural products that are in their natural state are exempted such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, berries, live or dead animals. The rule does not apply to produce that is not packaged but produce that is packaged must have the country of origin label.  Foods that go under substantial transformation are exempted also such as grapes that are made into jelly.  The author believes that the reason to have the labeling requirement is to discriminate against imported goods.  The bill does require that beef, lamb, pork, fish, peanuts, and perishable agricultural commodities have the country of origin labeling. This law applies to domestic and imported foods.

 

Kilman, Scott.  “Grocers, Meatpackers Fight Law to Label Origin of Foods.” (2003) The Wall Street Journal (241) 124:B1, B7.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture created a rule that passed in the 2002 farm-subsidy law that says by September 2004, the nation's supermarkets must label the country of origin of beef, pork, lamb, fish, produce, and peanuts.  A fine for mislabeling would be $10,000.  The food industry is opposing this. Congress is also fighting over this law and if they should repeal the mandate.  The House Appropriations Committee already voted to block some funding that would help implement the labeling rule.  Supermarkets are importing more to satisfy consumer's growing interest in variety.  The labels would help consumers to stay away from food from countries with poor health regulations or who are having a food scare.  The Bush administration also does not like the new regulation because it could affect trade and relations with other countries.

 

Klie, Leonard.  “Country of Origin Labeling.”  (2003) Food Logistics 63:8-9.

The author includes reactions to the new federal law that will require the U.S. food industry to include country-of-origin labeling.  The labeling will be included on all meat, seafood and produce and will be effective October 2003.  The author discusses possible effects that this law will have on consumers and the estimated cost of mandatory records and labeling that will be required to be given to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  U.S congressmen, grocery chains, and wholesalers have already issued responses and taken actions to the country of origin labeling.  The article also includes an inset that is titled, “Food Industry Unprepared for Bioterrorism Rule.”

 

“Trade Coalition Unveils New Website.”  (2003) Food Product Design(13) 5:25.

The Food Industry Trade Coalition has created a new web site a twww.countryoforiginlabel.org. The site will contain information about the laws and how they will impact different sectors of agriculture and food production.  The FITC does report that they hope the country of origin labeling will be appealed and a voluntary program will be put in its place.

 

“Wary of Mad Cow, Japan Asks U.S. to Label Its Beef.”  (2003) The Wall Street Journal (241) 119:A12.

Japan officially asked the U.S. to label its beef with a country of origin label by July 1 for the U.S.'s beef it exports to Japan. Japan wants to ensure that none of the beef is from Canada or other countries that have reported that they have found cows with the mad-cow disease.  U.S. packers report that they will have little chance of making the deadline since the U.S. has no uniform trace back system in place.

 

Last updated March 26, 2013

 

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