After approving the final rule on mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL), USDA announced Jan. 12 that it will publish the rule in the Federal Register Jan. 15. The final rule will go into effect Mar. 16.
COOL was able to be finalized after stakeholders resolved the debate in Congress and reached an agreement on revisions to the 2002 law. These revisions are contained in the 2008 Farm Bill.
USDA followed many of the recommendations that United Fresh Produce Association proposed for the final rule based on United Fresh’s review of the interim final rule. United Fresh felt that the final rule should maintain the definition of a processed food item; maintain the ability for the use of state, regional, or locality designation; clarify the need for no new record keeping as prescribed in the law; clarify that pre-labeled products are sufficient evidence for retailers to utilize at retail level and no additonal record-keeping is required; clearly state that suppliers may convey country of origin information information to retailers through any method of their choosing in order to comply with the regulation; and reinstate “safe harbor” provisions for retailers and suppliers.
Visit http://www.unitedfresh.org/assets/files/M-COOL%20Final%20Rule.pdf to review the final rule.