andrew schneider investigates

August 29, 2008

Your food came from where?

Filed under: FDA,Food additives,Food labeling,Food Safety,Random observations,USDA — Andrew Schneider @ 17:59

Do you care where your food came from?

Wouldn’t you like to know if the ground meat you’ve purchased came from a Middle Eastern country where camels out number cattle 500 to 1?

How about those dried banana chips from someplace in the center of Washington state or coffee beans from Canada?

And can anyone really know exactly which farm, in which country, the tomatoes came from?

I’m not sure that even the youngest among us will live long enough to actually see “country of origin labeling” on all food sold at U.S. markets.

Regardless of how much science-supported raving comes from food safety advocates and the few members of Congress who understand the potential for disaster from uninspected food flowing through our porous borders, the lobbyi$ts for the huge grocery chains and enormous food importers will most likely continue to keep meaningful labeling at bay. Thus, the consumer will still get the truth about a food’s origin from honest outlets who care and anything that sells from those firms sleazy who don’t.

But progress in COOL is inching along.

In July, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service issued an interim final rule addressing country of origin labeling that covers most cuts of beef, including veal, lamb, chicken, goat and pork and ground beef, ground lamb, ground chicken, ground goat and ground pork; perishable agricultural commodities such as fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables; peanuts; pecans, ginseng and macadamia nuts.

Food Safety and Inspection says the final rule will become effective on Sept. 30, 2008, to allow time for covered unlabeled commodities that are already in the pipeline to clear the system.

However, there is a very long list of products excluded from mandatory COOL, such as meatloaf, breaded chicken tenders or sausage, and you really don’t even what to guess as to how much meatloaf and how many meatballs we import.

Yea, this is progress. If you want to see how far we have to go, check out this FSIS link
to more than you probably want to know about Country of Origin Labeling.

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