Obama to push country of origin food labeling

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Obama to push country of origin food labeling

The Obama administration is throwing out food labeling rules proposed by the Agriculture Department just before George W. Bush left office, saying it wants labels for fresh meat and other foods that would show more clearly where an animal or food came from, according to consumer groups who’ve been briefed on the issue.

It’s about time but this would have looked very different under a Republican administration. The US is far behind on this issue and consumers deserve the right to know more details on the food they buy. (Consumers should also know if something has been genetically modified as well, but one day at a time.) Looking at the countless food related problems out of China and other countries last year, country of origin is important. As the cook in the house, I keep a close watch on the country of origin and am reluctant to buy products from certain countries who have a poor reputation for quality and safety.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told several consumer groups Tuesday in a conference call that he will ask the meat industry to voluntarily follow stricter guidelines for new package labels designed to specify a food’s country of origin, according to three people who were on the call. If the industry does not comply, the administration will write new rules, according to those who spoke with Vilsack.

The labeling requirements, which would apply to fresh meats and some perishable fruits and vegetables, long have been debated in Congress and were enacted as part of a wide-ranging farm bill last year. While the meat industry and retailers responsible for the labels have protested the changes — saying they are burdensome and could lead to higher prices — consumer groups and northern states ranchers who compete with the Canadian beef industry favor them.

via Obama to push country of origin food labeling.

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