Grocery shoppers will soon be able to tell their Argentine steak from their Midwest chicken at a glance, as a new federal law mandating nation-of-origin labels kicks in Sept. 30. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) will cover everything from fruit and nuts to beef, lamb, and chicken, reports the Chicago Tribune, but critics are denouncing the measure as limited and toothless.
Introduced in 2002, the law languished for years over industry concerns about cost, but finally passed because of ballooning consumer concern over the safety of imports. Some fear COOL is overly broad as processed foods, including mixed frozen vegetables, can skirt the law; and animals imported for immediate slaughter can still claim a US label. But everyone agrees implementation will be difficult. “Deep down a lot of people didn't want it to happen,” says one advocate. (Read more country of origin stories.)