As of March 16, 2009 all food and commodities covered under the USDA’s new rule on mandatory country of origin labeling will be required to indicate the original country in which the food was grown.
The new regulation, known as “COOL” will cover ground beef, steak cuts of all kinds, lamb, chicken, pork, goat meat, both farm-raised and wild-caught fish and shellfish, perishable agricultural products like fruit and vegetables, as well as certain nuts and herbs.
The rules do not apply to products that have been processed and used in another food product – TV Dinners, for instance. This has some consumer watchdog groups like Food and Water Watch upset that the regulations do not go far enough to protect American consumers.
The USDA has agreements with 42 states to conduct retail surveillance reviews, but USDA agents will conduct the retail reviews in the states not covered by a cooperative agreement in addition to supply chain audits.