Hormel Foods became among the first pork processors to notify producers supplying them with hogs of the new requirements that will be implemented when country of origin labeling becomes mandatory.

The law will become mandatory on Sept. 30, 2004. Hormel said they would rather share their policies sooner rather than later to allow more time to comply.

Retailers are ultimately responsible for labeling, but the required audit trail must go back to the farm. This means documentation that is approved by a third-party auditor will be required from each pork producer proving where the animals were born and raised.

After reviewing the Country of Origin Labeling law Hormel Foods has determined that several hog procurement policies need to be implemented in order to comply with the requirements. They are as follows:

1.      Hormel Foods, per the Country of Origin Labeling law, will require from the producer third-party verified documentation proving where the animals purchased were born and raised.

2.      Producers will have to sign a legal affidavit with each load of hogs stating that there is a third-party verified audit trail in place and it identifies the origin of the hogs on each load.

3.      Hormel Foods will perform random producer audits verifying that an accurate audit trail is in place that will comply with Country of Origin and that it has been approved by a USDA certified third-party.

4.      If Hormel is issued a fine or penalty resulting from producer noncompliance that fine will be assessed to the party responsible.

There is still much to learn about COOL before the September 2004 mandatory deadline, but Hormel decided to share these policies sooner rather than later to allow more time to comply. More policies may be necessary down the road, says the company.

Hormel Foods