New Food Lables...

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Wed, 04/15/2009 - 1:25pm.

Almost everything that's perishable will carry labels; fines for noncompliance. There are new labels showing up on some food items in grocery stores -- and they're pretty cool. Literally. Country of Origin Labeling (C.O.O.L.) laws took effect in March, and the new labels will help consumers discover exactly where their food is coming from.

The labels are being stuck on muscle cuts of beef, including veal, lamb, pork, goat and chicken, along with ground beef, ground lamb, ground pork, ground goat and ground chicken. Farm-raised fish and shellfish also get the labels, along with wild fish and shellfish. Perishable fruits and vegetables are required to have the labels, as are peanuts, ginseng, pecans and macadamia nuts.

Most grocery stores and supermarkets must abide by the new rules. Smaller stores such as fish markets and butcher shops, along with food service establishments, such as restaurants and bars, are exempt.

Billy Cox, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's agriculture marketing service, said the new law took effect on March 16.

"The labels are intended to give buyers more information about the foods that they purchase," Cox said.

It's the responsibility of the retailers to make sure the labels are put on their products, Cox said. "They can be fined up to $1,000 per event if they don't label the food," he said.

Some items in a grocery store may have more than one country of origin on the label. If a beef cow was born in Canada, sent to the U.S. to fatten up and then is slaughtered in Mexico, all three countries will be on the label, Cox said.

If meat from more than one cow is used in a product such as ground beef, the label will show which countries the cattle came from.

Cox said that the USDA will be auditing grocery stores across the country to make sure they are following the law correctly.

"If we get a complaint, we will definitely check and see if it's a valid complaint," Cox said.

The new C.O.O.L. laws are good for consumers, according to Diana Westmoreland Pedrozo, executive director of the Merced County Farm Bureau.

"I believe that the consuming public wants to know where their food comes from," Westmoreland Pedrozo said. "I see more and more people looking at labels and wanting to know."

The laws are also good for producers, Westmoreland Pedrozo said.

"American producers have a fine product, and they should be able to take credit for it," she said.

That'd be cool.

 Carol Reiter - April 14, 2009 - source MercedSunStar

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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Wed, 04/15/2009 - 1:25pm.