More Food Labels Show Shoppers Where Meat/Produce Originate From - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

9/30/08

More Food Labels Show Shoppers Where Meat/Produce Originate From

Shoppers can now look at chicken or vegetables and know where it was produced. That is due to a federal law that takes affect Tuesday.

Vanessa Irelan and her 5-month-old son Aden are on the hunt for some tasty apples. "I'm going to make apple sauce," Irelan said.  

It's now easier for Irelan to know exactly where these apples were produced. "We need to know what we are putting into our bodies especially with all the outbreaks and contaminants coming from different countries," Irelan said.

Starting Tuesday, federal law requires retailers label fresh meat, poultry, fish, fruits, vegetables and some nuts. The label shows you the product's country of origin. 

In 2002, congress passed the Farm Bill which made country of origin labeling a law. Yet industry pressure in Washington delayed implementation on everything but seafood until this week. "Our suppliers knew it was coming, just didn't know exactly what the form or the time frame necessarily would be," United Supermarkets Director of Corporate Communications Eddie Owens said.

Owens says it's not just the pineapple and tomato suppliers that started to prepare for the change. United Supermarkets also added country of origin to its price tags. "On these Valencia Oranges you can see the type of produce on the price and right below that it says United States," Owens explained.

From produced in Ecuador to the USA, the country of origin labels come in different sizes or shapes. However, when it comes to bulk items, like lettuce, you'll have to look toward the price tag. "When you've got materials like this it's very difficult to assign stickers to them," Owens explained.

It's a sticker or a label, which means customers, will no longer have to guess where her food is grown. "We're always wondering where our food comes from especially with babies," Irelan said.

Each labeling violation could result in a $1,000 fine. Small food outlets like butcher shops, restaurants and school cafeterias are exempt from the new law. It also doesn't apply to processed foods, for example with chicken, if spices, sauce or breading has been added no label is required.

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