The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued an interim final rule for the mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) program for fish and shellfish as required by the 2002 Farm Bill. The 2004 Appropriations Act delayed the applicability of mandatory COOL to the other covered commodities, other than fish and shellfish, until Sept 30, 2006.
“USDA received over 5,600 comments on the proposed rule for COOL, which have been carefully considered in developing a fair and effective interim final rule,” said A J Yates, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) administrator.
Under the interim final rule, fish and shellfish covered commodities must be labeled at retail to indicate their country of origin and method of production (wild and/or farm-raised). However, covered commodities are excluded from mandatory COOL if they are an ingredient in a processed food item. Also, the definition of a processed food item has been revised from the proposed rule.
This interim final rule outlines requirements for labeling covered commodities. It reduces recordkeeping retention requirements for suppliers and centrally located retail records to one year and reduces the time during which store level records must be made available to when product is on hand.
The interim final rule will take effect six months from the date of publication.
The full text of the interim final rule will be published in a forthcoming Federal Register. As an interim final rule, further comments are invited and must be submitted within 90 days of publication. Copies of the interim final rule and additional information can be found at www.ams.usda.gov/COOL/.