Printer Friendly

Country-of-Origin Food Labels Costly and Ineffective, Says GAO.

Mandating country-of-origin labels on fruits and vegetables would be costly, ineffective and would not enhance the safety of the U.S. food supply, according to a GAO study prepared at the request of House and Senate conferees on the omnibus appropriations bill. GAO reviewed a number of issues associated with the potential costs and benefits of mandatory country-of-origin labeling and concluded it is unclear who would bear the burden of any such additional labeling costs. The food industry applauded the study and said enacting country-of-origin labeling would only "provide a road map for other countries seeking to limit growth in U.S. food imports," according to the Grocery Manufacturers of America. The National Food Processors Association joined the chorus and asked Congress to focus instead on appropriate oversight of activities by FDA and USDA.

FDA estimates that federal monitoring would cost about $56 million annually and said "enforcement would be difficult." According to USDA officials and industry representatives, mandatory labeling at the retail level could be viewed by other countries as a trade barrier. Further, USDA and State Department officials believe a U.S. labeling law is more likely to be challenged than labeling laws imposed by other countries because the United States is both a large importer and exporter of fresh produce. In addition, and contradicting claims by sponsors of country-of-origin labeling, officials from FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say such requirements for fresh produce would be of limited benefit to food safety agencies in tracing the source of contamination in outbreaks of foodborne illness.

Finally, while consumers favor country-of-origin labeling for fresh produce, they rate information on freshness, nutrition and handling and storage as more important, according to nationwide surveys sponsored by the fresh produce industry.
COPYRIGHT 1999 Informa Economics, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Food & Drink Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 3, 1999
Previous Article:U.S.-EU Consumer Groups Call For GMO Labeling and Ban on Antibiotics.
Next Article:Canadian Government Establishes Office of Natural Health Products.

Related Articles
Origin Labels on Meat Would Increase Industry Costs, Says GAO.
FDA Limits Safety of Functional Foods, Dietary Supplements, Says GAO.
FSIS and Food Manufacturers Oppose Quantity Labeling of Ingredients for Codex.
GAO asked to study of country-of-origin labeling issue.
USDA delays release of final country-of-origin labeling rules.
USDA to finalize controversial country-of-origin labeling rules.
GAO to study country-of-origin issues.
Senators and ag group strategize to ensure COOL program is left unchanged.
Cool food.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |