� The Needles | Main | When Hollywood brought Lincoln to town �

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Know your food origins

It's taken seven years, but we're finally seeing country labels right on certain foods at the grocery store (Kathryn Rem: A COOL move for food):

You may have noticed tags on supermarket grapes that let you know they were imported from Chile, or stickers on lamb indicating it came from New Zealand.
This information — now found on lots of unprocessed foods — is brought to you by the U.S. government, which has lumbered for years to put mandatory country-of-origin labeling, known as COOL, into effect.

What took so long?

Federal legislation requiring country-of-origin labeling was passed in 2002 as part of a massive farm bill. It was seen as a way to protect Americans from bad catfish from China and diseased peppers from Mexico.
But implementation stalled for years as food industry groups protested, saying the law would be expensive and cumbersome.

Which foods are affected? And which ones not?

What has to be marked? Raw beef, veal, lamb, pork, chicken (not turkey), goat, wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts and ginseng.
Processed foods are exempt; raw pork chops must be tagged, but not ham or bacon. Fresh peppers need the marker, but not frozen poppers made with peppers. Raw shrimp and salmon must sport the geography, but if the shrimp is cooked or the salmon is smoked, that’s considered processing.
Foods that are mixed together are spared, as well. Peanuts must be labeled, but not trail mix. Frozen green beans need the info, but not if pearl onions are added. Strawberries get marked, unless they’re mixed with other fruits in a salad.
If animals were born, raised or slaughtered in different countries (for example, a cow born in Mexico but slaughtered in the U.S.), the sticker must include all of those countries.

There was a time when we would hold up an ear of corn to the produce guy and ask "what country is this from?" We didn't really care what country it was from. We just got a kick out of seeing him run into the back room, come back, and reply, "Indiana." Those were the days.


Posted by Marie at May 28, 2009 11:41 PM


Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)