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COOL Labeling Mandate Affects Meat Industry

COOL Label Mandate by USDA

COOL Label Mandate by USDA

New labeling requirements mean changes in the meat industry and retail stores. A country-of-origin labeling (COOL) mandate that went into effect on March 16, 2009 requires signs or labels on fresh meat products, such as steaks, ground beef, and pork chops. Also affected are fresh chicken products that are sold in retail stores. Meat and chicken products sold in restaurants, and processed products, do not require this labeling.

The U.S. Congress determined that COOL labeling should be provided to inform consumers about the source of their meat products. Prior to the mandate, country-of-origin information had begun appearing on meat product labels giving information about where the animal was born, raised, and processed. For example, if meat was processed in the U.S. it was considered a U.S. product and no labeling was required detailing its geographic history. The COOL mandate now requires that all countries involved in the breeding, raising, and processing of livestock be listed on a label. For example, an animal bred in Canada but sent to the U.S. for processing would have a label such as “Product of the U.S., and Canada”.

Imported finished products in consumer packaging from other countries, such as Danish hams or Canadian pork loins, for example, say “Product of Denmark” or “Product of Canada.” For more information on this mandate, and to determine if the COOL mandate affects you, go to the Country of Origin website.

Labeling mandates for the food industry are designed to protect consumers. But with so much information required on packaging, knowing what kind of label you need can be overwhelming. We can help you sort out the details, get into compliance, and give you the right label for your product. Give us a call at 603-598-1553, ext. 237, and we can discuss your particular needs.

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