New Food Labels

Joe Murray, Fiesta Foods
Joe Murray, Fiesta Foods
Ross Wilson, Texas Cattle Feeder Association
Ross Wilson, Texas Cattle Feeder Association

From the ranch to the supermarket, all products will carry a label that indicates where the item was grown. This is part of the country-of-origin labeling law, which takes effect September 30.

All grocery stores will have to label all of their fruits, vegetables, fish and meats that are foreign grown.

"A healthy customer is a happy customer," said Joe Murray, manager of Fiesta Foods. "Basically it affords more protection to the customer as far as the flow of information."

This wealth of information has a price tag. The USDA estimates it will cost $2.5 billion to implement the plan.

"The disadvantage to the producer is the cost, and the question if the benefit will offset that cost," said Ross Wilson, president and CEO of the Texas Cattle Feeder Association.

Several studies conducted by the Consumers Union indicate the need for this labeling law. In their polls, more than 90 percent of consumers said imported products should be labeled.

"Consumers say it's necessary, but a lot of people when they go into the grocery store look at quality and then price. I think most of us shop on the premise that the food in our grocery stores is safe."

The law, however, does not include food-safety regulations. It simply requires grocers to identify a foreign product.

Fiesta Foods manager Joe Murray says information will give customers a peace of mind.

"Customers sometimes feel like they are in the dark. They come in and buy something and they don't know where it's from and don't have the amount of confidence that they should," Murray said. "What this does is, it brings everything on top of the table."

Not everything customers take home will carry a label. Chemically processed foods and pre-packaged meats do not require a label.