More uncertainty has surfaced for the mandatory country of origin labeling law. President Obama’s administration has requested all federal agencies to freeze new or pending regulations of the Bush administration until the new executive team approves them. This includes the mandatory country-of-origin labeling law.
Rahm Emanuel, White House chief of staff, issued a memorandum to federal agencies that directs them to consider extending for 60 days the effective date of regulations that have been published but have not yet taken effect "for purposes of reviewing questions of law and policy raised by those regulations."
The final COOL law is scheduled to take effect March 16. However, the memo indicates Obama is asking agency heads to use discretion. "It appears that there is some discretion given as to whether or not published final rules will be enacted as is or reviewed," American Meat Institute spokesman Dave Ray told Meatingplace. "So it's not certain what will happen with COOL."
Some expect the Obama camp to tighten up COOL rules. "The main concern of packers has, I believe, always been complexity," National Meat Association spokesman Jeremy Russell said. "The more complex the mandatory COOL labeling system the more costly — and the more likely there will be errors."
Other regulations the Obama administration might call in to review include a rule proposed by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service regarding an official numbering system for the National Animal Identification initiative. New provisions in the 2008 farm bill also may be reviewed. The Food and Drug Administration's new guidance on genetically engineered animals also is unclear.
To read the full text of the memorandum, click here.