Industry Proposes COOL Alternative

May 26, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Ten associations representing a wide variety of food industry interests have joined together to offer a voluntary alternative to the mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) program.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council,

United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association, National Fisheries Institute, Produce Marketing Association, American Meat Institute, National Meat Association, Food Marketing Institute, National Grocers Association and National Food Processors Association joined together to propose a voluntary program that meets five important criteria.

  1. The program is market-driven by consumer demand and industry promotional needs.

  2. It incorporates hundreds of existing labeling programs already recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  3. The program makes use of existing country-of-origin records for verification. Only companies that directly import or export product should be required to keep such records.

  4. It offers flexibility in the medium used to communicate the information to consumers including packaging, stickers, twist-ties, etc.

  5. The program allows labeling to be completed at the point in the supply chain where it will be most cost-effective. This place will vary depending on the product.

In a joint release, the associations offered their proposal as a workable solution to the issue of country-of-origin labeling. “Why will voluntary country-of-origin labeling work now when recent programs have not? The entire industry is committed to making it work. We support the voluntary labeling approach because it informs consumers about agriculture products’ country-of-origin and benefits U.S. producers by promoting American-grown foods. We are enthusiastic about this effort and hope others in the agriculture, processing, retail, and food service communities will give this effort full consideration.”

Moderator’s Comment: Is the country-of-origin labeling proposal made by the associations a better alternative than
the mandatory program out of Washington?

As we’ve said before, COOL is essentially a marketing program with no real value on the food safety front. That being the case, why not leave the label
marketing to those with the most vested interest in promoting the goods’ sale, i.e. the manufacturers, processors, importers, etc.

George Anderson – Moderator

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