ARLINGTON, VA — July 29, 2008 — The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) welcomes the government’s efforts to simplify country of origin labeling (COOL) requirements in the interim final rule issued yesterday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The rule requires labeling for beef, chicken, goat meat, lamb, produce, peanuts, pecans, ginseng and macadamia nuts.

     “We appreciate USDA’s decision to emphasize education and outreach, giving the industry time to implement the newly announced labeling systems,” said Deborah White, FMI senior vice president and chief legal officer.” The rule takes effect on September 30, 2008, but USDA will conduct an industry education and outreach program for the first six months before beginning enforcement.

     “FMI is undertaking an extensive effort to ensure that companies know how to comply with all the requirements, working with USDA and our partners in the industry,” she said.

FMI to Conduct Six Educational Sessions in August

The FMI educational initiative begins with six programs in August. FMI will hold three one-day regional workshops jointly with the American Meat Institute Foundation and United Fresh Produce Association. These are designed to help retailers, wholesalers and suppliers learn how to work together in complying with the regulations.

     The workshops will feature legal experts from the three associations and USDA officials who helped write the rule. The morning session will cover how to implement COOL for meat and the afternoon for produce. The dates and locations:

  • August 12 at the Four Points Sheraton hotel in Baltimore, MD.

  • August 13 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare hotel in Chicago, IL.

  • August 14 at the Wyndam hotel in San Jose, CA.

     FMI will follow up with three web seminars from 2-4 p.m. EST on August 19, 20 and 21 exclusively for retailers and wholesalers. To learn more and register for the workshops and web seminars, visit

     Some technical details in the interim final rule still need to be resolved. To gain clarification, FMI will file comments with USDA and meet with agency officials.