FMI Critiques COOL After WTO Ruling

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Food Marketing Institute criticized the Country of Origin Labeling Law’s financial weight on the food industry after the World Trade Organization upheld its ruling that the law violates one of the articles of its Technical Barriers to Trade and noted it has a “detrimental impact on imported livestock.”

COOL’s record-keeping and verification requirements cause a burden on suppliers more than they provide information to consumers at retail, WTO wrote. 

“That is, although a large amount of information must be tracked and transmitted by upstream producers for purposes of providing consumers with information on origin, only a small amount of this information is actually communicated to consumers in an understandable or accurate manner, including because a considerable proportion of meat sold in the United States is not subject to the COOL measure's labelling requirements at all,” WTO wrote in a statement last week.

On Monday, the Food Marketing Institute’s Regulatory Counsel Erik Lieberman said the retail industry spends tens of millions of dollars each year on the regulatory requirements of COOL.

“With the appeals process exhausted, it’s now time for Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to address the wastefulness of the program and create a less burdensome system,” Lieberman said in a statement to the press. 

“In light of the ruling, FMI will be assessing changes to COOL so our nation can meet its obligations under global trade agreements. In cooperation with our supply chain partners, FMI will make the case to the government that our solution works best for consumers, the industry, farmers and our trading partners.”

Originally, WTO had ruled COOL violated two articles of TBT; the United States had appealed this decision.