Place-of-Origin Labeling

Country- and state-of-origin labeling laws allow consumers to choose food that originates within their state or country, thereby supporting local or national producers. Progress on national labeling laws has been slow. A country-of-origin labeling law for many food products was finally passed as part of the 2002 Farm Bill, but full implementation has been delayed until September 2006.

Some customers want country of origin labeling (COOL) for food so they can support domestic farmers and producers, or because they want to minimize the “food miles” their groceries travel. Others want COOL out of concerns about pesticide and other residues on imported fruits and vegetables, or mad cow disease.

While COOL labeling for food has been slow to implement on the federal level, states have implemented their own rules.

For an explanation of why states might want to pass country- or state-of-origin labeling rules, see Ask Dr. Dave –   Why are states involved in Country of Origin Labeling?

In the meantime, states have taken the initiative to put in place their own labeling laws. A 1979 Florida statute that requires country of origin labeling of fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and honey was the first in the U.S. Many states require all meat retailers to clearly label imported meat with the country of origin, including Wyoming, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana.

Studies show that consumers overwhelmingly favor country-of-origin labeling (such as the 1996 national study by Charlton Research Company of San Francisco, which showed that 74 percent support the labeling for fresh produce). Many growers feel this logic can be extended to state-of-origin. Indeed, country- and state-of-origin labeling may be a first step towards relocalizing our food supply.

State-of-origin labeling allows consumers to support their state’s agricultural economy. The Florida law allows “Produced in Florida” labels, as do laws in South Dakota and Minnesota among others. California has a law, similar to place-of-origin laws in European countries, that regulates the content of wines labeled with Napa Valley place names.

Some laws are primarily focused on food safety. A Maine labeling law passed in 1989 requires country of origin labeling of any produce imported from countries with pesticide standards lower than the U.S regulations.

More Information:

  • State-Of-Origin Labeling – Minnesota Grown This program is a partnership between the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the growers and processors who provide quality Minnesota Grown products. It was initiated in the 1980’s by fruit and vegetable growers. Since then, it has grown continually. The foundation of the program includes an annual grower license to use the trademarked Minnesota Grown logo.

Country-of-Origin Labeling – European Union

September 1, 2000 is the date the first stage of a new system for the identification and registration of beef and beef products in the European Union (EU) went into effect. As of that date, member states have to indicate on the label, down to the retail level, the country of slaughter, country of cutting/deboning, the reference code of the animal and its category. This requirement is also applicable to minced beef. Labels must read: "Slaughtered in (name of the Member State or third country) (approval number)".… Read More

Country-of-Origin Labeling – Federal

On May 13, 2002, President Bush signed into law the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, more commonly known as the 2002 Farm Bill. The new law required country of origin labeling (COOL) for beef, lamb, pork, fish, perishable agricultural commodities and peanuts.… Read More

Country-of-Origin Labeling – Florida

Florida Statutes

TITLE XXXIII - Regulation Of Trade, Commerce, Investments, And Solicitations
Chapter 504 Specialized Agricultural Product Labeling
Part I: Produce
Part II: Organic Farming And Food

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Country-of-Origin Labeling – Idaho

The Idaho labeling statute requires all foreign meat, poultry, eggs and butter to be marked with the country of origin. While the law has been on the books since 1965, it is currently not enforced by the Idaho Department of Agriculture. They cite a shortage of state funds and interstate commerce concerns.… Read More

Country-of-Origin Labeling – Maine

The original Maine country-of-origin law passed in 1989 and required labeling of fresh produce "in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of Maine citizens from the dangers of pesticides used or applied in a manner or at a rate disallowed in the United States". Changes to the law in 1999 now requires country-of-origin labeling of all foreign produce packed in the state.… Read More

Country-of-Origin Labeling – Mississippi

Effective July 1, 2002, Mississippi State Senate Bill 2367 will go into effect mandating "Country of Origin" labeling on beef products sold in retail stores. The labeling will provide three distinctions for labeling retail beef products: "American," "Imported," and "Blend." The American labeling specifically identifies beef from the United States. The labeling will only affect retail grocers and not food service sectors.… Read More

Country-of-Origin Labeling – Montana

The Montana Country-of-Origin Labeling Act passed in 2005, folowing two previous unsuccessful attempts to pass such a bill. It requires meat sold in Montana to be clearly labeled with its country of origin beginning in September 2006. It also allows Montana farmers and ranchers to label their products "Made in Montana".… Read More

Locally Grown Labeling – Vermont

To protect its citizens from deceptive advertising, the state of Vermont implemented a law in 2008 that says that labels like "local" and "locally grown" may be applied only to food and other goods that originate in Vermont or within 30 miles of where they are being sold.… Read More

State-of-Origin Labeling – Napa County, California

This statute, enacted in 2000, is not being enforced until legal challenges are completed.… Read More