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Copyright (c) 2004 Loyola University of Chicago 
Loyola Consumer Law Review

NEWS: The Birth Place of Food Products: Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From?


16 Loy. Consumer L. Rev. 285


By Jacquelyn Trussell*


I. Introduction
Where's the beef? The public may never know the answer to that question or to any other question concerning the origin of many different food products, including meat, peanuts, fresh fruits, and vegetables. 1 This is because Congress has delayed the effect of the country-of-origin labeling regulation, otherwise known as "COOL," for two years. 2

The desirability of COOL has been the cause of considerable debate. Most consumers seem to be in favor of COOL, in contrast to producers who are largely opposed to the regulation. Both sides in the debate have strong arguments in their favor, resulting in Congress' contradictory behavior. Thus, COOL's future will depend on which side is more persuasive.

II. Background
COOL was introduced in the 2002 Farm Bill, which amended the 1946 Agricultural Marketing Act ("AMA"). 3 The United States Department of Agriculture ("USDA") introduced COOL as a voluntary provision 4 that was to become mandatory in September 2004. 5 The regulation requires "a retailer of a covered commodity" to inform consumers, "at the final point of sale of the covered commodity to consumers, of the country of origin of the covered commodity." 6 Covered commodities include beef, lamb, pork, fish, and perishable agricultural commodities such as peanuts. 7

However, there are significant exemptions to COOL. For example, if a covered commodity is merely an ingredient of a processed food item, then the country-of-origin labeling requirement ...
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