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Consumer Reports has released poll results suggesting that more than nine out of 10 Americans – 92 percent – support the concept of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and want to know where the food they buy originated.

While congress enacted COOL legislation in 2002, it has twice delayed its implementation (except for seafood). The current start date is September 30, 2008.

While the food industry has largely resisted COOL as expensive and unnecessary, recent food safety scares – including products made in both the US and abroad – seem to have heightened Americans’ sensitivity on the issue. In addition, there is some evidence that COOL could become a campaign issue – John Edwards, the candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, has called for mandatory COOL as part of his proposed platform.

The Consumer Reports poll also said that 86 percent of Americans want foods labeled “natural” not to contain any artificial ingredients.
KC's View:
This is very simple.

Consumers want their foods to be what they say they are, and they want to know where they are from.

Natural means natural. Not mostly natural, with only a small percentage of artificial ingredients that are hardly worth mentioning.

Organic means organic, not almost completely organic except for a few ingredients for which organic alternatives were not available.

And they want to be able to make their own decisions about whether to buy certain products, and they want to be able to factor country of origin into that decision-making.

Only in the halls of Congress, and in the boardrooms of major businesses, do issues like these get complicated and a matter for debate.

I’m not saying it is going to be simple or inexpensive. I’m not even saying that the current COOL legislation, as written, is the most effective and efficient way to get at this information and make it available to consumers.

But what I am saying – and what I have been saying for a long time – is this: the food industry ignores the consumer will at its own peril. These consumers’ attitudes are only going to get stronger and more vocal, especially as new food safety problems emerge. And they will.