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ID NEWS: Political "brawl" over COOL

The House Appropriations Committee has voted to block some of the funding for country-of-origin labeling implementation, and a "political brawl" can be expected to ensue, according to the Wall Street Journal.

While U.S. cattle ranchers and consumer activists support the regulations, a broad coalition of food industry groups have lobbied against it, saying it is too onerous. Meatpackers, for example, say they would have to "tear up" slaughter plants, to keep animals of different countries from mingling. Nor do supermarkets want the responsibility of such labeling, which would require them to keep two years of records. Confusion in determining country of origin is cited as still another problem. Cattle, for example, may change ownership, crossing national boundaries before slaughter, and nationality for ocean-caught fish would have to be determined by the nationality of the ship that caught it. Also adding to confusion: how to handle labeling when some ingredients of an otherwise American-produced product do not originate in the U.S.

Of notable interest to the foodservice industry, another issue cited in the WSJ article is disparity in applicability of the law: That is, the restaurant industry, where 46% of Americans spend their dollar, is not covered.

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