You Should Know

December 2008 Issue

COOL Rules? New Labeling of Food Imports Is Complicated, Confusing

After years of contentious debate between Congress and the food industry, Country Of Origin Labeling, with the ultra-cool acronym of COOL, became official on September 30 (any food produced or packaged prior to that isnít required to be labeled). The ruling means that certain food products must be labeled according to their country of origin. But not all foods. Thatís the unfortunate catch. But the rule improves what was hit-or-miss information before. Whatís COOL, Whatís Not. The ruling mandates labeling for a curious conglomeration of foods: beef, lamb, pork, chicken, goat, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, peanuts, pecans, ginseng and macadamia nuts. However, processed foods, mixed foods and organ meats, (e.g., heart, liver, kidney) are exempt from COOL. The processed food exemption leaves a lot of food in no-manís land, as well as some head-scratching logic.

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