USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says he’s prepared to allow the country of origin labeling (COOL) final rule go into effect as scheduled on March 16. However, he believes there needs to be changes in the rule and would like industry to voluntarily adopt these changes.

The areas include labeling of:

  • Meat from mixed-origin livestock – product should be labeled with the country where each production step takes place.
  • Process products – cooked, cured, smoked, fried, etc. products should be labeled. These products are currently exempt from the final rule.
  • Ground product – currently a country may be listed on the label as long as the product has not been out of inventory for more than 60 days. Vilsack would like this changed to 10 days.
USDA says it will follow closely how the rule is implemented by industry and then determine if changes need to be made to the final rule. Vilsack plans to send letters to industry outlining his suggestions.