Country of Origin Labeling Requirements

 

Country of Origin Labeling (COOL)

 

Since 2009, all fresh produce sold at retail has been required to carry a notice of its county of origin.

Here's a look at the country-of-origin labeling requirements:

What's covered?
All fresh fruits and vegetables

What's not covered?
Processed fruits and vegetables

  • Processed foods are foods that have undergone a change in character; including those that have been cooked, cured, or smoked. 
     
  • Processed foods currently include products that include more than one covered food, for example a fruit medley.

How must the product be marked?
Country-of-orgin labeling can be provided to the consumer in numerous ways. The law allows the product to be marked with a label, stamp, mark, placard or other visible sign on the package, display, holding unit or bin. 

The USDA recommends additional signage on the display even if a product contains the country-of-orgin on the Price Look-Up sticker because stickers are not 100% effective.

What kind of record-keeping is involved?
At the retail level, records denoting the country of origin must be kept for one year.

What's the penalty?
Non-compliance can be penalized by up to a $1000 fine for each violation.

For more information on the final rule on country-of-origin labeling go to https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/cool.