The rules have been in effect for over two years, but USDA says the comments received now will be used to develop a final rule for mandatory labeling, and to the extent applicable, to other covered commodities.
USDA published the COOL requirements for fish and shellfish as an IFR in the Federal Register in October 2004. This became effective in April 2005.
The IFR requires retailers and their suppliers to notify customers of the country of origin and method of production of specified fish and shellfish products and maintain specific records to verify claims.
USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) reopened the interim final rule's comment period for 90 days in November last year. However, comments at the time were limited to comments concerning the economic impacts of the interim final rule, including implementation costs, maintenance costs, the burden of the information collection and recordkeeping requirements, benefits and net economic impacts.
Details of the new comment period reopening are published in the June 20 issue of the Federal Register. Comments are due by August 20 and should be submitted, preferably online, or by the following methods:
- via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
- or by mail to Country of Origin Labeling Program, Room 2607-S, Agricultural Marketing Service, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Stop 0254, Washington, DC 2025-0254; or by fax to (202) 720 – 1112.
The full text of the IFR can be found at http://www.ams.usda.gov/cool/COOLfr.pdf.