We finally have food label of origin. Who, what, why, where and when and how much?

October 2nd, 2008

It’s taken more than six years for this legislation originally enacted in 2002 as part of the farm bill to take affect. Are we safer than we were six years ago from food born illness?

As we watch the politics of this year’s presidential election, it is easy to understand why this legislation has taken so long to enact. A combination of what has become a process of supporting private interests, lobbying, and the continuation of the frustrating partisan politics that our democratic system has digressed to have conspired to create this six year delay.

Now we can start to discuss the questions of who this affects, who must participate, who pays, why compliance is necessary, where labeling is required and when we can start to look for it.

How will a consumer be able to determine where a product originates? That quite frankly depends on how the retailer chooses to implement the program. If they are required to implement this at all, which some small specialty retailers will not be required to do. At some companies the source may be displayed on a sign. At others it may be displayed by a label on the actual product or both.

In fact the United States and most other North American countries import hundreds of food products from dozens of countries. Some are close neighbors and others are thousands of miles away. Some products are included, others are not. Some products which are required to display labeling when combined with other products that require labeling result in a product that does not require labeling.

This program although a positive step, is just that a step. This author is not sure it will make it any easier to trace food born illness at this point. In this country we often ship products to other countries for processing and return the same product back to the United States the same day. Who is responsible for this labeling?

This author continues to support traceability beyond one forward one back and this process is another step in that process albeit an expensive one with a few to many loopholes.

We look forward to your comments.

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