Consumer Labels: Food & Water Watch Supports COOL | Food & Water Watch
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Wenonah Hauter--One of Seven Women Working to Change the Food System

Food Tank: The Food Think Tank

Consumer Labels

We Deserve to Know What’s in Our Food

 Join the Movement to Label Genetically Engineered Food

Take Action: Sign the petition to urge elected officials to support GE labeling.

Learn More: The Case for GE Labeling

Do We Know What’s in Our Food?

Right now, many of the processed foods available in our grocery stores probably include some genetically engineered ingredient. These genetically engineered foods are altered at the molecular level to contain genetic material from different species and even microorganisms. Recent research has found that these unnatural foods don’t live up to their hype and may have credible cause for consumer concern. And yet, food corporations continue tinkering with our food’s genetic makeup, all in hopes of increasing their profits. As a result, these genetically engineered foods are invading our grocery stores, and we don’t have a way to avoid them.

Do People Want to Know What’s in Their Food?

YES! Ninety percent of people want labeling for these foods. In the U.S., there has been a huge coalition effort to build enough pressure to get the Food and Drug Administration to require these labels, but the biotechnology industry and food processors have blocked efforts to require labeling.

Most developed countries, including 15 nations in the European Union, Japan, China, Russia, Australia and Brazil, have all required food producers to label foods that contain GE ingredients and dozens of countries require country of origin labels on food.

We Have the RIGHT to Know About Our Food

We have a right to know what’s in our food, how it’s been produced and where it’s from. After years of effort, it is now a federal law that some food has to be labeled with its country of origin. But there is no law that requires labels for foods that contain genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.

What Do Country of Origin (COOL) Labeling Regulations Cover?

Seafood has been covered since 2005. Since 2009, beef, poultry, lamb, goat, some nuts (peanuts, pecans, and macadamias), fresh and some frozen fruits and vegetables, and ginseng have to be labeled with their country of origin. This requirement applies to retailers (grocery stores). The labeling is not required at restaurants or specialty markets (like fish markets, butcher shops, or roadside stands). And the way the USDA defined the rules for labeling do leave some loopholes that mean consumers are not getting all the information they should be. Learn more.

Political Power Is How We Get Labeling

Food & Water Watch and other consumer and farming groups fought for years to get country of origin labels into consumers’ hands. But the food industry doesn’t want consumers to know what they’re eating. We must work to improve existing label requirements and get genetically engineered foods covered by labeling laws.

In addition to getting more requirements for mandatory labeling, consumers also need improvements in labels that food processors put on foods that may not be accurate or useful. Meat, poultry and egg products are covered with label claims and not all of them mean what you think they should.

Learn more about which labels may be misleading you.

Learn more about other labels.