Questions and Answers

Retailers in physical (bricks and mortar) locations and those who sell remotely (such as online), are required to identify the country of origin of covered commodities.

For retailers in physical locations (brick and mortar) country of origin can be placed on covered commodities using a label, stamp, mark, placard or other clear and visible sign on the covered commodity or on the package, display, holding unit, or bin containing the commodity at the final point of sale to consumers. 

This information may be typed, printed or handwritten provided it is in conformance with other Federal labeling laws and does not obscure other labeling information required by Federal regulation. The information may be combined or listed separately but must be placed in a conspicuous location, so as to render it likely to be read and understood by a customer under normal conditions of purchase. Food service establishments, such as restaurants, cafeterias, food stands, and other similar facilities are exempt from these labeling requirements.

For remotely purchased products (i.e. internet sales, home delivery sales), the retailer may provide the country of origin notification either on the sales vehicle or at the time the product is delivered to the consumer for covered commodities.

Any person engaged in the business of supplying a covered commodity to a retailer, whether directly or indirectly, must make available information to the retailer or buyer about the country(ies) of origin and method of production (wild and/or farm-raised), if applicable, of the covered commodity. This information may be provided either on the product itself, on the master shipping container, or in a document that accompanies the product through retail sale provided that the document identifies the covered commodity and its country(ies) of origin and method of production, if applicable.

The regulation gives the Secretary of Agriculture and USDA the authority to conduct an audit of any person that prepares, stores, handles, or distributes a covered commodity for retail sale to verify compliance.  Upon request by USDA representatives, suppliers, and retailers subject to this subpart shall make available to USDA representatives, records maintained in the normal course of business that verify an origin claim (7 U.S.C. 1638a. (d) (2) (A and B)).  Such records shall be provided within 5 business days of the request and may be maintained in any location.  These records may be in any form that is auditable and verifiable, which would include those records maintained electronically (7 CFR §65.500 (a) (1 and 2)).

This public reporting burden is necessary to ensure accuracy of country of origin and method of production declarations relied upon at the retail point of sale.  The public reporting burden also assures that all parties involved in supplying covered commodities to retail stores maintain and convey accurate information as required.

There is no affirmative form submission requirement associated with this collection of information. The information collection rule expiration date for OMB Control Number 0581-0250 (pdf) is March 31, 2023 and has legal significance in accordance with 5 CFR 1320.5(b).

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Contact Information

For additional information about COOL, please contact:

Food Disclosure and Labeling Division
USDA AMS, Fair Trade Practices Program
Room 2069-S, Stop 0216
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250-0216

Questions & Answers Correspondence

(202) 720-4486 (phone)
(833) 967-0226 (Fax)