An interim final rule document on mandatory country of origin labeling is now available from USDA. The rule contains definitions, requirements for consumer notification and product making as well as record keeping responsibilities of both retailers and suppliers for commodities covered under the program. COOL labeling is scheduled to be implemented Sept. 30, 2008.

The rules contained in the 233-page document cover commodities including muscle cuts of beef, veal, lamb, chicken, goat and pork, as well as ground beef, ground pork, ground lamb, ground chicken and ground goat.

"In order to meet the Sept. 30, 2008 implementation date and to provide the newly affected industries the opportunity to provide comments prior to issuing a final rule, the Department is issuing this interim final rule," the USDA says.

The document also includes a request for comments. To submit a comment, click here. Written comments can be sent to: Country of Origin Labeling Program, Room 2607-S; Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), USDA; Stop 0254; 1400 Independence Avenue, SW; Washington D.C. 20250-0254 or by fax to 202-354-4693.

To view the entire rule document, click here.