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Governor Sends Comments, Recommendations
to USDA on Country of Origin Labeling Rule

February 28, 2004
Saturday - 12:50 am

In a letter to the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, Governor Frank H. Murkowski has provided the State of Alaska's position and recommendations on a proposed rule that would require country of origin labeling (COOL) for, among other commodities, wild and farmed seafood products.

Murkowski, who has long supported COOL as helpful to consumers as well as America's food producers, expressed the state's support for the regulation, but added a number of recommendations to make the rule better.

"Today, there is often a premium paid in the market for Alaska seafood products," Murkowski said. "The state believes this trend will increase, but only if truthful information reaches the consumers. Consumers, particularly in Europe and most recently Japan, want to know where their food comes from, who made it, what is in it, and what safety conditions apply to that production. COOL supports this growing trend and puts US producers on a competitive track."

Among modifications to the proposed rule that Murkowski recommended are:

  • To include compliance by specialty shops, such as butcher shops and fish markets, which would be exempted under the current proposal.
  • To clarify coverage of products that have undergone a chemical or physical change, such as cured ham. In other words, if the product from which a second product is made is covered, the resultant product should not be exempted.
  • To clearly identify canned salmon as a commodity that is covered by COOL regulations.
  • To extend the time that a retailer must maintain records of the sale of an item from seven to 30 days.
  • To revise USDA's statement regarding the potential cost of COOL and whether US consumers would be willing to pay for the labeling.

"US consumers do want to know where their food comes from," Murkowski said. "When determining the actual value of the COOL regulations, the state asks that USDA consider the importance of consumer education, our small US-based producers and their inability to mount expensive lobbying campaigns, the importance of progressive regulations, and discouraging fraudulent information in our marketplace.




Source of News Release:

Office of the Governor
Web Site


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