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USDA Drops New April 1 Labeling Requirements

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Author: Doreen Edelman

The U.S. Department of Agriculture dropped April 1, 2009 as the date when the new country-of-origin-labeling (COOL) for food requirements will be enforced. The enforcement date will now depend on a review by the current administration. The COOL program rule covers muscle cuts and ground beef (including veal), 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.

The new rule will require retailers to inform their customers of the country of origin of the products listed above and the method of production for fish and shellfish. Excluded from this rule are processed food items or food items that have undergone a physical or chemical change (cooking, smoking or curing). The rule also does not apply to restaurants, cafeterias, bars or other similar businesses.

There is $1,000 fine for each violation that may be applied to both noncompliant retailers and suppliers. For additional information, please visit: http://www.ams.usda.gov/COOL

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