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Seafood COOL Will Begin Sept. 30

WASHINGTON - Despite hopes to the contrary, Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) for seafood will go into effect on Sept. 30 without any further rules published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to a spokeswoman for the McLean, Va.-based National Fisheries Institute.

The nation's leading seafood industry trade association issued a bulletin yesterday alerting its members that while the USDA prepares to release an interim final rule for mandatory COOL and method of production labeling for fish and shellfish, it is likely to change little, if at all, Linda Candler, NFI's v.p. of communications, told Progressive Grocer.

Although implementation will still be Sept. 30, Candler said, "The good news is that it's looking like the USDA is going to use discretionary enforcement for about a year. In an ideal world, the rule would have been changed substantially, but the fact that people aren't going to be fined from day one is certainly a break for the industry."

When asked about the sentiment regarding U.S. retailers' preparation and readiness for the Sept. 30 start date, Candler noted: "Most have really been on top of this from early on. Even before April, most retailers began sending letters to their suppliers saying, 'Here's what we want you to do to make sure we're in compliance before Sept. 30.'

"The devil, of course, is in the details," added Candler, "because the retailers may demand different things from the same supplier," which she characterized as "part of a process that is probably going to be in negotiation between suppliers and retailers right until the deadline."

-- Meg Major

To read some of the questions and answers regarding this topic that NFI issued in its member bulletin, visit the "More Headlines" section.
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