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The US Congress has voted to delay implementation of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations until fall 2006, bowing to lobbying pressures by food retailers and the meat industry, which say they are crafting a more efficient and effective voluntary system.

The vote was part of a $375 billion government spending bill passed yesterday. President Bush is expected to sign the legislation, and the administration supported the delay of COOL implementation.

However, the debate may not be over. Democratic Leader Tom Daschle said he would try to overturn the delay, and he is supported by groups such as Public Citizen and the National Farmers Union. The argument against a delay suggests that COOL regulations are even more important because of the discovery of a single case of mad cow disease on US soil, in a cow that originated in Canada.

Congress had passed a law two years ago mandating COOL regulations be in place by September 30, 2004, on red meat, seafood, fruits, vegetables and peanuts.
KC's View:
Where we agree with retailers is the notion that manufacturers ought to be responsible for record-keeping, not retailers.

But we continue to feel that industry is being short-sighted in opposing COOL. It may not matter, but it runs the risk of being perceived as anti-consumerist. Unless, of course, the voluntary system is broadly implemented and effective…in which case we will be proven wrong. (And not for the first time.)