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Country of Origin Labeling: What Businesses Need to Know

In January 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced details of the final regulation for the mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) program required by the 2002 and 2008 farm bills, and published the full text of the final rule in the Federal Register. The rule took effective on March 16, 2009. Copies of the final rule and additional information are available at

The rule covers:

  • muscle cuts and ground beef, lamb, chicken, goat and pork
  • wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish
  • perishable agricultural commodities (specifically fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables)
  • macadamia nuts
  • pecans
  • ginseng
  • peanuts

Commodities covered under COOL must be labeled at retail to indicate its country of origin. For fish and shellfish, the method of production -- wild or farm-raised -- must be specified. Commodities are excluded from mandatory COOL if the commodity is an ingredient in a processed food item.