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Klobuchar Praises New Food Safety Rule

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008 at 5:03 am

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar praised the implementation of a new food safety rule that takes effect Tuesday, but called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to close a loophole in the new rule that large packagers are exploiting to conceal the exact country of origin. The Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) measure goes into effect today. The provision was a part of the 2008 Farm Bill, which Senator Klobuchar helped author. It requires that meat and other agriculture products be identified by their source nation.

“This measure not only takes a significant step toward improving our ability to track meat in the event of recall, but expands consumer choice as they’ll be able to know exactly where their food is from,” said Klobuchar.

The labeling rule applies to all grocery stores but does apply to restaurants, food services and processed meats. The rule already applies to fish and shellfish. Other provisions of the new rule will allow for the tracking of meat from the feedlots to the packing plants to the grocery store.

Specifically the new rule applies to beef, pork, chicken and lamb, as well as to fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, creates four labeling categories:

1. Products exclusively born, raised and processed in the United States may be labeled as a U.S. product.

2. Products from animals that were not exclusively born, raised and processed in the United States and not imported for immediate slaughter will be labeled with all countries in which the animal may have been born, raised or processed.

3. An animal that was imported for immediate processing may be labeled as a product of the importing country and the United States.

4. Animals that were born, raised and processed in a foreign country will be labeled as a product of the country of origin.

An adjustment period starts on Oct. 1, 2008, giving retailers and manufacturers six months before enforcing the rules in order to allow time accommodate the change. After six months, businesses that do not implement the labeling rule face fines of $1,000 per violation. In order to assure the spirit of the law is followed, Senator Klobuchar and 29 other Senators recently sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminding the agency to uniformly enforce the rule.

(From the office of Amy Klobuchar)

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