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Coalition Perceives Benefit in Country-of-Origin Food Labeling.

A coalition of nearly 90 organizations is calling on the Senate Agriculture Committee to include language requiring mandatory country-of-origin labeling for fresh produce and meat products in the omnibus farm bill. In letters to panel Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and ranking member Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), the coalition urges support of 5 280 (the Consumer Right to Know Act) in the farm bill. That proposal, introduced last February, would require retailers of beef, lamb, pork and perishable agricultural commodities to inform consumers at the final point of sale of the country of origin of the commodities. Food service establishments would be exempt. The coalition consists mainly of state consumer, livestock, fruit and vegetable and other organizations.

The letter claims that U.S. consumers prefer to know the country in which their food is produced. Under S 280, fresh produce must be grown and processed in the United States and meat products must be from animals born, raised and slaughtered in the United States to be labeled as "Made in the USA." Currently, there is nothing stopping U.S. fruit, vegetable or meat producers from putting a "Product of the USA" label on their products. Under S 280, these commodities would be required to carry country-of-origin labeling, and it would be the responsibility of the retailer to make certain labels were attached. The bill also would grant USDA the authority to coordinate enforcement with each state.

The coalition notes that manufactured goods sold in the United States have carried mandatory country-of-origin labels since the 1930s. "Today, at a time when retailers sell fresh produce from dozens of countries, our nation's fruits and vegetables need to carry that same important information," according to the groups' letter to Harkin and Lugar. The House recently passed a country-of-origin labeling measure for fresh produce as part of its farm bill package.
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Comment:Coalition Perceives Benefit in Country-of-Origin Food Labeling.
Publication:Food & Drink Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 5, 2001
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