PCC implements Country-of-Origin labeling

July 12, 2007

Country of Origin Labeling Program
Room 2607-S
Agricultural Marketing Service
1400 Independence Ave. SW, Stop 0254
Washington D.C. 20250-0254

Dear Agricultural Marketing,

On behalf of our 38,000 member households, we urge you to implement mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for beef, pork, lamb, peanuts and fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables as mandated by the 2002 Farm Bill (The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act) five years ago.

As a grocery retailer with eight stores and annual sales of $110 million, we want you to know that our customers are demanding to know the origin of the foods they see for sale. The many food safety violations involving products from China have exacerbated their concerns. They want to purchase U.S. products, but without mandatory COOL they’re denied the ability to differentiate between U.S. and imported products.

As you know, opponents of mandatory COOL are trying to convince Congress that a change in statute is needed to reduce what they claim are burdensome and expensive aspects of the program and further delay implementation. We’re here to say, as a retailer, that by the end of next month, we’ll complete labeling the country of origin on all our beef, pork, lamb, peanuts and fresh produce (in addition to seafood) without any burden or noticeable expense. We believe this improved traceability reduces our risk and increases food safety.

We furthermore urge you to include processed seafood in COOL rules. The current exemption for processed seafood means that the country of origin is revealed on only about 50 percent of the seafood sold.

Please urge Congress to end the prohibition on implementation funds for USDA and implement COOL labeling this year, without further unnecessary delay.

Sincerely,

Tracy Wolpert
Chief Executive Officer

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