Country-of-origin label opponents volunteer a compromise
January 19, 2004,
just-food.com: Long standing adversaries of mandatory
country-of-origin laws, food firms and meat processors
have approached the U.S. Department of Agriculture with
a compromise: they will participate in a voluntary labeling
program if Congress repeals the current law.
This proposition may leave proponents of the law a little
leery, seeing the USDA has already set up a voluntary
labeling program, but it has generated few participants.
Tim Hammonds, president of the Food Marketing Institute
promises the response will be markedly different if industry
is allowed to set up their own program.
"The current law is so burdensome that no one wanted,
even on a voluntary basis, to try to implement it in its
current form," Hammonds, was quoted by Reuters as
Industry groups are expected to hold a meeting on the
issue soon and are hoping to finalize a market-driven
voluntary labeling program by the spring. However, if
the law is repealed, Hammonds said the industry would
immediately set a deadline for the implementation of its
own program, reported Reuters.
"There is widespread agreement that the mandatory
program is too costly and unworkable in the real world,"
said Tom Stenzel, president of the United Fresh Fruit
and Vegetable Association.
"What is needed is an industry-driven framework for
providing country-of-origin information that is market-driven
and does not increase the cost of food," he added.
Congress in considering a two-year delay to the law that
requires mandatory country-of-origin labeling on meat,
seafood, fruit and vegetables from 30 September.
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