Country-of-origin labeling (COOL) became mandatory Sept. 30, 2008, as part of the 2007 Farm Bill. The labeling program requires retailers to ensure that “covered commodities,” which includes beef muscle cuts and ground beef, are labeled with country of origin at point of retail sale.
Labels. All livestock present in the U.S. on or before July 15, 2008, that have remained here continuously are considered of U.S. origin. “Product of the U.S.” labels otherwise apply only to animals exclusively born, raised and harvested in the United States. There are three other labeling categories: Animals that are born and/or raised in a different country then harvested in the U.S. are labeled as a multiple-origin product and must identify all relevant countries. Meat products imported from another country are labeled as a product of that country. The third category covers animals raised in another country and imported to the United States for immediate harvest.
Records. Producers, harvest facilities, distributors, handlers, packers and processors are required to possess or have legal access to origin records. Records must identify the covered commodity, retail supplier and origin information, and they must be maintained for one year from the date the origin declaration is made at retail.
Beef producers have two options for recordkeeping compliance: participation in a source-verified program, or an affidavit to support their existing recordkeeping and business practices. Printable versions of the recommended affidavits are available here.
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