On February 3, 2015, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a notice to inspection program personnel (IPP) to make them aware of the Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) final rule on Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) published in the Federal Register on May 24, 2013, which requires certain muscle cut commodities covered under the COOL Regulations (available here) to be labeled information about where (which country) each of the production steps (i.e. born, raised and slaughtered) occurred. Note that the Final Rule does not apply to imported meat, but does apply to live animals born outside of the U.S., but slaughtered in the U.S. The Notice makes clear to FSIS inspectors that AMS is responsible for enforcing the COOL regulation and COOL statements on labels do not require prior approval by the Labeling and Program Delivery Staff. The Notice also states that inspectors are not to do any verification activity under the Public Health Information Service General Labeling task to assess whether the COOL label statements are truthful and not misleading. Inspectors are directed not to take any independent action to enforce the COOL Rule; however, they are directed to notify their supervisor if they have concerns about COOL compliance issues at retail. More information on the Final COOL Rule may be found here. The COOL regulations are the subject of an ongoing WTO proceeding involving the U.S. and Mexico and Canada. Please contact Erik Lieberman at email@example.com or 202.765.1800 if you have questions or would like additional information.