COUNTRY-OF-ORIGIN LABELING

Those steaks, veggies, and other foods you buy at the supermarket – where do they come from?

Those steaks, veggies, and other foods you buy at the supermarket – where do they come from?

Most consumers assume that since the USA is the greatest food producer in the world, that all of these staples come out of America’s own good soil. But chances are that they come from China, Eastern Europe, or other countries where US processors and supermarkets can get food on the cheap. With the recent exposés of contaminated foods from China, however, we’re learning that “cheap” imports can come at a heavy price for consumers. Shouldn’t there be a law to label meats and produce so we shoppers can know from whom we’re buying?

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There is! It’s called COOL (Country-Of-Origin Labeling) and it was passed five years ago. Don’t bother checking your supermarket labels, though – because corporate lobbyist and the Bushites, have quietly prevented the implementation of COOL.

Lobbying groups like the American Meat Institute don’t want consumers knowing that much of the meat its corporate members sell is not American at all. The conglomerate food processors and such giant retailers as Wal-Mart also don’t want us to know that they’re filling their packages and shelves with stuff from places with little food safety regulations. So they’ve pumped campaign money into the pockets of congress critters to get them to stall the law. For example, Rep. Henry Bonilla, who was key to sidetracking COOL, took more than $368,000 from the meat industry alone.

The food importers also stacked Bush’s agriculture department with their own henchmen. One beef industry trade group, for example, put three of its former executives in top ag department slots – including the deputy undersecretary, who would have overseen the labeling program.

The good news it that Representative Rosa DeLauro is working to free COOL from the lobbyists’ choke hold. To help, call her office at 202-225-3661.

“Origins of Our Food,” The New York Times, July 4, 2007
“Food Lables Lack Origins Despite Law,” The New York Times, July 2, 2007

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