Whether shoppers stroll through a grocery store or visit a local farmer’s market, they often wonder where meat or produce comes from.
The Country of Origin Labeling program, or COOL, began as an amendment by Congress to the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 in the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bill. However, COOL did not officially take effect until March 2009. This regulation requires retailers, such as grocery stores, supermarkets, and club stores, to provide accurate country of origin information on all covered commodities, including muscle cuts and ground beef (including veal); pork, lamb, goat, and chicken; wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish; fruits and vegetables; peanut, pecans, and macadamia nuts; and ginseng.
Often, consumers base their purchasing decisions on the origin of the product. There are requirements for country of origin labeling for clothing, car parts, appliances, electronics, and other commodities that have been in effect for many years and are regulated by other government agencies. Now the COOL law provides the same information on certain food products that we consume and purchase for our families. For fish and shellfish covered commodities, the COOL law requires retail stores to provide country of origin information, method of production information, (farm-raised or wild caught), in a conspicuous location at the point of sale so that consumers are likely to see and understand the information. The intention of COOL is to simply provide consumers with additional information, nothing more.
Here at the COOL Division, we recently enhanced our infrastructure by hiring new personnel, moving into new office space, and challenging ourselves with new responsibilities to advance the quality of customer service to our state cooperators, the retail and supplier industries, and consumers.
In the upcoming weeks, this blog will provide a broad orientation of on-going COOL activities, training and outreach events. We are also happy answer any questions from stakeholders and the general public. Please submit questions regarding COOL by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
So get your feet wet and dive into our COOL world by visiting our website. You will be COOLer the next time you shop for groceries.