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New Food Labeling Laws Proposed


All produce bought and sold in the U.S. could soon carry an extra label detailing its country of origin, if Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have their way.

Committee Chairman Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., proposed draft legislation Thursday that would mandate country of origin labels and would also require all food producers serving U.S. markets to list on their company Web site the origins of every ingredient in the food they produce.

"How are you going to know what is in [your food] or whether it's safe if you don't know where it comes from? If it comes from Canada, it's probably pretty safe. If it comes from China, you're going to say, 'Holy cats, we better watch out,'" Dingell is quoted as saying in an AP story.

The proposed legislation would also give more money and power to the FDA. It would allow the FDA to mandate food recalls- right now it can only recommend them, though most companies comply. It would also require all food producers serving U.S. markets to pay new fees that would generate an estimated $600 million annually. The FDA would use the extra money to beef up inspections of foreign and domestic food facilities.

The extra cost of the fees could be passed on to consumers in a time when food prices are already on the rise--whether consumers think the extra cost is worth knowing more about food origins remains to be seen.

For more details, read the draft legislation memo from Rep. Dingell's office.

-Post by Marni Ginther