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USDA Issues Final Rule on Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

(American Meat Institute)

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued its final rule for the mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) program required by the 2002 and 2008 farm bills. The full text of the final rule will be published in the January 15, 2009, Federal Register. The rule becomes effective on March 16, 2009, 60 days after publication.

The rule covers the labeling requirements for muscle cuts of beef, pork, lamb, chicken and goat, and ground beef, lamb, chicken, goat and pork; wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish; perishable agricultural commodities (specifically fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables); macadamia nuts; pecans; ginseng and peanuts.  Processed food items are exempt from labeling and the definition of those items remains unchanged from the August 1, 2008, interim final rule.  The final rule also outlines the recordkeeping requirements for retailers and suppliers. The law provides for penalties of up to $1,000 per violation for both retailers and suppliers not complying with the law.

 A complete summary of the final rule and more information on COOL compliance, can be found at http://www.countryoforiginlabeling.org/.

Copies of the final rule and additional information are available at  http://www.ams.usda.gov/COOL.

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