FMI Responds to USDA’s New COOL Requirements for Meat

Food Marketing Institute (FMI) today issued the following statement from FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new mandatory country-of-origin (COOL) labeling rule.

Sarasin says, “It is unreasonable to have a 98-page rule of this magnitude effective immediately. Furthermore, it is profoundly unfair for the regulatory authorities to impose a rule that will have a significant, financial impact on our members when they know that the rule is unlikely to address the concerns raised by the World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel, making yet another round of costly changes inevitable.

“As a result of the extensive comments filed by FMI and other groups, USDA and the Office of Management and Budget reclassified the COOL meat rule from economically insignificant to a regulation that has an impact of more than $100 million annually on the economy – a number FMI believes is actually much higher.

“Supermarkets face significant financial and labor burdens associated with this new rule, and will have to make modifications to existing procedures, despite the fact that in the past year substantial time and financial resources have already been devoted to reconfiguring packaging and labels in order to comply with meat nutrition information requirements.  The rule goes far beyond labeling and will impact product availability, supply chain operations, and employee training.  Finding the funding for equipment and staffing that will likely be required to comply with this rule will force difficult management decisions in an industry that operates on a one percent profit margin. Reengineering a meat labeling system to comply with a rule that will likely be changed will have to take priority over needed investments in business innovation.”

“Regulations are expensive and have consequences,” Sarasin adds, “USDA cannot continue to impose these kinds of costly, poorly designed rules without considering their impact on retailers and consumers.”

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