COOL food labels to cost billions

The USDA projects that the new country-of-origin food label rules, which go into effect on September 30, will cost U.S. companies $2.5 billion next year to comply. And more than 1.2 million U.S. business "establishments" will be "either directly or indirectly affected" by the new labeling requirements, the department estimates. Originally mandated in the 2002 farm bill, COOL rules stalled under industry pressure, but were revived in the 2008 farm bill, which was enacted over President Bush's veto. Pressure from consumers to know the origin of their food – including beef, chicken, fresh produce, and frozen fruits and vegetables – will give them the information they want, but ultimately the additional costs to food companies and retailers will be passed on. The department's assessment offers some hints of how much more consumers might pay. Retailers' implementation costs are pegged at 7 cents a pound for beef and 4 cents a pound for pork. COOL rules