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Thursday, April 9, 2009

COOL labeling

Our neighbours to the south have decided that their consumers should be able to tell the country of origin of the foods they buy. This has led the U.S. government to enact a food labelling law dubbed “COOL,” country-of-origin labelling. COOL, which has been years in the making and which was introduced in stages, requires that labels on meat and other foods sold at U.S. supermarkets have labels that indicate the countries from which the food originates.

This seems very sensible to me. The lack of such food-labelling has been a source of contention among my circle of friends and family for some years, especially last year after dairy products from China were found to be tainted with the chemical melamine.

Many of us thought the sensible thing to do to protect the health of our families was to avoid foods originating in China. But, of course, we couldn’t always do that because the food we bought was not always identified as to country of origin. We can tell the origin of most consumer products sold in Canada, but it is not so easy to identify the origin of our food, or in the case of processed foods, the various countries of origin of the ingredients.

Apparently representatives for the cattle and pork industries do not agree with us, for they are urging our federal government to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization, on the grounds that the COOL law represents a non-tariff barrier that threatens the livelihood of Canada’s rural economy.

I believe that Canadians should be embracing such regulations, not fighting them. This is one U.S. law I hope we will copy here in Canada.

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