Washington, DC – April 27, 1999 – The Food Industry Trade Coalition applauds the General Accounting Office’s (GAO) finding that country of origin labeling for fresh produce is needless and uneconomical. The study, FRESH PRODUCE: Potential Consequences of Country-of-Origin Labeling, was commissioned by the U. S. Congress last year. The Food Industry Trade Coalition includes companies and organizations involved in the domestic and international processing, manufacturing, distribution and marketing of food products to consumers.

"This government report shows the defects in mandatory country of origin labeling requirements on marketers of fresh produce. The report confirms that such proposals, currently pending in Congress, are expensive; difficult to enforce; and serve no useful purpose. Also, imposition of new labeling laws would invite retaliation by our trading partners," commented Tim Hammonds, President and CEO of the Food Marketing Institute, chair of the Food Industry Trade Coalition.

"Proponents of Country of Origin labeling want to send a negative message that imported fruits and vegetables are somehow inferior. Whenever you send a negative message, it damages the entire category; whether domestic or imported." Growers currently have the option of sending a positive message by voluntarily indicating products 'Grown In America'. A voluntary labeling system does not require legislation and minimizes the chances of retaliation from our trading partners."