To COOL or not to COOL: Should origin labeling be repealed?

11/29/2011 10:46:00 AM
Tom Karst

It is a given that retailers would love to repeal the country or origin labeling law, and the recent World Trade Organization dispute panel finding against the law appears to create an opening to shed the law with the official sanction of the world trade body. Find The Packer's coverage of the story here.

Of course it won't be that easy. The office of the U.S. Trade Representative issued a statement that didn't appear to signal that the Administration would walk away from the law. From the USTR:

“We are pleased that the panel affirmed the right of the United States to require country of origin labeling for meat products,”  said Andrea Mead, Press Secretary for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. “Although the panel disagreed with the specifics of how the United States designed those requirements, we remain committed to providing consumers with accurate and relevant information with respect to the origin of meat products that they buy at the retail level. In that regard we are considering all options, including appealing the panel’s decision.”

Despite high rates of compliance with the law,FMI said the country of origin law needs to be repealed or rewritten.

I hope the retail industry doesn't advocate once again for a "voluntary" country of origin labeling scheme. That won't get the job done.  The more honest approach would be a push for outright repeal.

I'm curious what readers think. I posed the question to the Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group: 

Should the U.S. country of origin labeling law be scrapped or revised?

So far, mixed feelings:

John writes:


Are we serious about saving tax dollars and reducing the size of government? Repeal COOL. Don't spend a dime on a phone call to Geneva to defend it. We now have trace back and QR codes, right? Unlike when COOL was implemented a few years ago, a consumer who wants to know can point his Android at a QR code and know the latitude, longitude and atlitude of the farm,ranch or fishery that produced the product. .

But Kaycie responds:

Working in produce, I have to say the law is challenging in some aspects, however, there are many farms/packers/shippers that still don't even label items (or labels don't stay on) - I would say only relying on a QR code to provide all information for consumers is not realistic - in addition, many of our organic buyers don't want ANYthing stuck on their produce - for them,  COOL signage is the best way to help them identify source

TK: What do you think? Should COOL be scrapped or tweaked?

Join the LinkedIn Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group. Check out the stats from LinkedIn on the growth of the group. Facebook link here.

Bookmark the Fresh Talk home page.

Follow me on twitter @tckarst.



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