FMI details concerns regarding food labeling legislation

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The Food Industry Association (FMI) recently announced concerns about potential repercussions of language included in the Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) Online Act, stating it would be duplicative and burdensome.

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The concern stems from the Senate’s recent advancement of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which includes language from the COOL Online Act, detailing how the bill would require retailers to include country of origin information in product descriptions on their websites, reflecting the origin of the exact product the customer will receive.

The FMI maintains the requirement would foster costly new technology challenges while conflicting with current requirements identifying the country of origin on the package in place under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) authority for more than 10 years.

“Now is not the time to place additional, duplicative burdens on essential industries like food retailers with no additional benefit to customers,” said Andy Harig, FMI vice president of Tax, Trade, Sustainability & Policy Development. “Online purchasing by customers has increased exponentially due to the COVID pandemic, and retailers have expanded their online product offerings at significant costs to meet consumer needs.”

The FMI said the existing USDA COOL program has proven functional, providing consumers with country-of-origin information efficiently and cost-effectively with food retailer high compliance rates.

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