USDA Country of Origin Labeling
USDA Implements Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling Interim Final Rule
On September 30, 2008, USDA’s Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) Interim Final Rule became effective. It meant that any covered commodities, which included muscle cuts of beef and ground beef, packaged after September 30, 2008 must declare the country of origin on their label. Processed food items (such as dairy products) were not covered by this rule but beef products were covered, so this required some action by dairy producers.
The full text of the final rule is available here.
As part of the rule, USDA declared that a review of records will be the means for USDA to verify claims made on labels. Retailers will be required to have the ability to trace the labeled product with records of origin to prove the label claim. Suppliers (either directly or indirectly) of covered commodities must make the information available to the retailer to enable them to conduct the trace back. USDA also indicated that a producer affidavit is considered acceptable evidence on which the slaughter facility may rely to initiate the origin claim. To assist producers in complying with any requirements for affidavits, the livestock chain developed a universal set of affidavits that industry can use.
The document is available here.
On September, 29, 2008, NMPF submitted these comments to USDA regarding the COOL Interim Final Rule.