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Where does your food come from?

Changes are looming for food labels in this country

Published: February 2013

When you buy meat, fish, or fresh vegetables, there’s usually a country-of-origin label—COOL, for short—that tells you where the food was grown or raised and processed.

These labels help you make informed choices about the food you eat. Say there’s an outbreak of food contamination in a certain product from a certain country. A COOL label helps you steer clear of that product. Or if you prefer fruit from a certain country—perhaps blood oranges from Spain—the information is right there.

In December 2012, the World Trade Organization told the U.S. Department of Agriculture that it’s fine for the United States to require retailers to label where meat comes from, adding that the U.S. rules were too complicated and expensive for other countries to comply.

Now the Agriculture Department must decide whether to change the labeling rules, get rid of them, or, at the risk being penalized by the WTO, leave them as is.

A group of 31 Democratic and Republican senators recently sent a letter in support of the COOL rules to U.S. regulators, urging them to preserve the fundamental elements of these food labels.

We agree with the senators. The U.S. should be able to adjust the COOL rules through regulations without canceling the rules or compromising the critical information that consumers want and deserve.

Country-of-origin labeling provides you with vital information when shopping for food. That’s why we’re pushing to preserve these rules.

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