USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service is issuing a final rule amending the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations by removing the requirements for muscle cuts of beef and pork, and ground beef and pork. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 repealed these COOL requirements and immediately after the legislation was passed, USDA stopped enforcing the COOL requirements for beef and pork effective Dec. 18, 2015.

COOL is a labeling law that for marketing purposes requires retailers to provide their customers with information regarding the country of origin of regulated commodities. Under this final rule, beef and pork muscle cuts and ground beef and pork are removed from the list of covered commodities subject to the COOL regulation. Retailers are no longer required to provide this information for beef and pork at the point of sale. COOL regulatory requirements for chicken, lamb, goat, farm-raised and wild caught fish and shellfish, perishable agricultural commodities, peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, and ginseng are still in effect.

The final rule will be published in the Federal Register on March 2, 2016, and is effective upon publication. 

Congress attached a repeal of the COOL program to the year-end omnibus federal spending bill that will fund the government through 2016.Consumer groups lobbied for the rule, but Canada and Mexico complained about it to the World Trade Organization (WTO), which sided with them. Last year, WTO ruled Canada and Mexico could slap more than $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs on US products because of the COOL law which the organization said discriminates against the bordering countries’ livestock.