Country of Origin Food Labeling
Cut through the confusion and get a handle on the complexities of country of origin food labeling.
As a specialist in food packaging design, I frequently get questions regarding labeling and compliance. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) is a requirement of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that can be particularly confusing, especially when you have different components coming from different countries.
To shed some light on the subject, let’s address two common COOL scenarios involving example ingredients and countries:
scenario 1: geographical origin
Cocoa is imported from Mexico but is sometimes imported from Chile instead. The COOL labeling requirement states that, “Food labeling statements regarding geographical origin must not be false or misleading in any particular.” So it would be incorrect to state that the cocoa is a product of both Mexico and Chile on the label. You would need two labels in this case—one for each respective country of origin. One exception to this example is certain oils used in certain products.
scenario 2: blending ingredients
Let’s say some spices are imported from India but are blended in the United States with other spices imported from China to create a new spice blend that is different from the individual imported spices. Country of origin statements are not currently required for individual ingredients in an end product if that product is substantially transformed during the blending and preparing process and is no longer identifiable as the product itself. If the end product is mixed, created or blended and substantially transformed in the United States, then it is a product of the United States even if all of its individual ingredients are imported from other countries. However, the packaging of the individual ingredients must state the country of origin when importing.
product of the usa labeling
It is not required to state when a food is a product of the United States, but many brands choose to do so. Transparency in the food manufacturing process is important to consumers, and many American consumers prefer to buy products made in the USA. So this helps build trust and can be a selling point. However, it can be a bit misleading to the consumer because “Product of the USA” or “Made in the USA” does not necessarily mean all or even any of the product’s ingredients come from the U.S. (for products with multiple ingredients), but rather that the making or blending of the product happens in the U.S.
This article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice nor does it substitute for your reading and reviewing the applicable language from the FDA, CBP or COOL regulations or obtaining advice from the appropriate professional regarding what is and is not required by the FDA, CPB and COOL regulations. This article is not intended to provide advice and direction on how to comply with the FDA, CPB or COOL requirements. The reader of this article is urged to read the FDA, CPB and COOL regulations and/or obtain the appropriate professional advice on the FDA, CPB and COOL regulations. No professional, business or other advisory or economic relationship is created herein, and in some states these materials may be considered advertising.