Remember back, just a few years, a cartoon with Daffy Duck where he pulls his tail feathers up and exposes, emblazoned in all its glory, the WB logo – smack dab on his protruding rump? As a kid, (and admittedly, even now) I thought a logo on a duck’s butt was hilarious – I guess that’s why the creatives at Warner Brothers took that particular visual route. It certainly left a lasting impression (no pun intended).

Now, with a quick leap to the present, you may ask, “Why this walk down memory lane?”

Well, in a few days, we Americans will be able to look at virtually any cut of meat and see something similar — a label that says where the meat came from!

Laughing yet? No kidding… Starting Sept. 30th, manufacturers and grocery stores must comply with a new federal law that requires “Country of Origin Labeling,” or C.O.O.L., on beef, pork, chicken, lamb as well as some perishable items, such as fruits and vegetables and a variety of nuts. You can read more here.

Some say this will enable consumers to avoid food that, just as an example, comes from countries that they have heard have food safety problems. It also will allow consumers to stick to American-grown food, if that is their preference.

Without getting into the logistical details, there have been a slew of comments running around the Web for and against this new guide. I’ll leave my opinions until I hear a bit from you, but some of the buzz is centered around:

Its accuracy: What about the beef industry that is very well known for importing and combining cuts from other countries in their ground meat and hamburger patties?

Its safety: Some safety groups have hailed C.O.O.L. as a necessary step toward broader education; while at the same time complaining that the Department of Agriculture hasn’t defined the law narrowly enough (e.g. many foods classified as “processed,” such as mixed frozen vegetables, are exempt from the law). So, frozen peas are to be labeled, but frozen peas-n-carrots aren’t?

Its authenticity: According to the Chicago Tribune, many in the meat industry fought C.O.O.L. because,

“…they don’t want consumers to know that they’re buying imported hamburger and beef cuts.”

Its cost: According to Lloyd Day, head of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, they opposed the law,

“because of its projected impact on consumers and its estimated cost to the food industry: $2.5 billion in the first year.”

Hmmmmmm… A marketing and PR mess? … Food for thought?

In any case, Congress pushed ever forward and after an arduous six-year battle, C.O.O.L. takes action on Sept. 30, so the debate over its merits is largely over.

Or is it?

“We don’t know exactly how it’s all going to work,”

said Colin Woodall, the executive director of legislative affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

“And we won’t know until it’s fully up and running.”

So, what do you think of C.O.O.L.? Is it COOL? Is it bureaucracy? Is it for you? Chime in. Does Congress need to explain this to consumers a bit more?

Let’s get this conversation boiling and find out if you want your rump labeled “COOL!” COOL?

Keep Cooking!
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef