Delay in seafood COOL

The U.S. Department of Agriculture extended by six months mandatory country-of-origin labeling for fresh and frozen fish and seafood that had been scheduled to take effect in September 2004.

Fish now must bear the COOL label by April 4, 2005.

The delay gives the fish industry time to sell existing, non-labeled product. Supermarkets and larger retailers will be responsible for labeling, but smaller retailers are exempt. Agriculture officials also said strict enforcement of the new rules will be deferred for a year so commercial fishermen, fish farmers, importers, distributors, and retailers can be trained in compliance.

The final rule exempted processed fish, such as canned tuna, canned and smoked salmon, and breaded fish sticks. Opponents of COOL are hoping to persuade Congress to pass legislation replacing mandatory COOL with a voluntary program.

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