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    FMI Welcomes Interim Final Rule on COOL

    Trade groups schedule educational implementation programs to educate industry on how to comply with new law.

    The Food Marketing Institute said it welcomes efforts to simplify country-of-origin labeling (COOL) requirements in the interim final rule issued Monday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The rule requires labeling for beef, chicken, goat meat, lamb, produce, peanuts, pecans, ginseng, and macadamia nuts.

    "We appreciate USDA's decision to emphasize education and outreach, giving the industry time to implement the newly announced labeling systems," said Deborah White, FMI's s.v.p. and chief legal officer. The rule takes effect on Sept. 30, 2008, but USDA will conduct an industry education and outreach program for the first six months before beginning enforcement.

    "FMI is undertaking an extensive effort to ensure that companies know how to comply with all the requirements, working with USDA and our partners in the industry," she said.

    FMI will conduct six educational sessions in August, three of which will be one-day regional workshops jointly sponsored by the American Meat Institute Foundation and the United Fresh Produce Association. The sessions are designed to help retailers, wholesalers and suppliers learn how to work together in complying with the regulations.

    The workshops will feature legal experts from the three associations and the USDA officials who helped write the rule. The morning session will cover how to implement COOL for meat and the afternoon for produce. The dates and locations are as follows:

    --Aug. 12 at the Four Points Sheraton hotel in Baltimore
    --Aug. 13 at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare hotel in Chicago
    --Aug. 14 at the Wyndam hotel in San Jose, Calif.

    FMI will follow up with three web seminars from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. EST on Aug. 19, 20, and 21 exclusively for retailers and wholesalers. To learn more or register for the workshops and Web seminars, visit www.fmi.org/events/.

    Some technical details in the interim final rule still need to be resolved. To gain clarification, FMI will file comments with USDA and meet with agency officials.

    The Produce Marketing Association and Western Growers will also host a free COOL implementation Webinar Aug. 6, which will feature an in-depth look at the new regulations from U.S. Department of Agriculture administrator Lloyd Day.

    Day will present the new regulations and explain what companies throughout the supply chain need to do to comply with them. He and other USDA representatives, including deputy administrator for Fruit and Vegetable Programs Robert Keeney, will then answer questions from Webinar participants.

    For more information and/or to register for the event, visit http://www.pma.com/webinar/COOL-2-Webinar.html.

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