Ever since the FDA’s Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) was enacted in the early 1990′s, food package labels have been a battleground between the food industry and consumer interest groups. While the former try to limit the disclosures, the latter want more information to be available to the public.
In 2004, Congress has required food manufacturers to clearly state whether a product contains any of the eight most common food allergens, in simple English, for example “This product contains Milk”, not whey or casein. In 2005, companies were required to start labeling fish and shellfish .
The latest round in the battle for more information revolves around COOL – Country of Origin Labeling. The USDA believes people want to know where their beef comes from, especially when third world countries with less food safety regulations are involved. But food industry representatives have been claiming that this kind of information system is too costly and difficult to implement.
Here’s the story from CNNMoney:
Under the federal mandate, supermarkets, large grocery stores and wholesale clubs must let consumers know where staples like beef, chicken, pork, lamb, vegetables and fruit come from. The law, part of the 2008 Farm Bill passed this summer, takes effect at the end of next month. more..
What you need to know:
If you prefer to support US farmers, or are worried about the safety level of foods coming from other countries, or think that flying fruit over from Chile is a environmentally wrong, the COOL label can help you make a more informed decision.
What to look for at the Supermarket:
Starting in October, look for the new information, either printed on the food label or added as a sticker.