USDA-AMS is already conducting physical surveillance at PACA operations to see that there is clear recordkeeping and documentation that the appropriate actions are followed to show the Country of Origin label is correct and records are stored 1 year to provide a clean, fully accountable traceback and method of production for the COOL law. This law applies to all PACA covered operations that handle COOL law commodities. ScoringAg has the needed traceback, recordkeeping and archiving system in place since 2004 at low cost.
The Country of Origin Labeling law (COOL) became effective on March 2009, and is being enforced now. All COOL covered commodities includes: all meats from livestock, all fresh and frozen fruit and produce, chicken, fish, shellfish, ginseng, pecan and macadamia nuts along with peanuts requires a means of traceability records for the USDA-AMS COOL Law. Retailers have to provide to consumers the Country of Origin, by a label on the package/placard or be fined $1000.00 per item (e.g. a box of tomatoes). Retailers can not afford to purchase products which are not in compliance with the COOL law. They will need the required records for the AMS audits to prove the accuracy of the labels and traceback throughout the supply chain to the producer/grower, distribution center or a packer-shipper.
A link to the audit report of the USDA Office of Inspector General can be found on our website ScoringAg. You’ll find on page 16 the OIG Recommendation 7:
“Develop and implement procedures to test additional commodities if errors are identified during record reviews and evaluate retailers’ recordkeeping systems.”
as well as the Agency Response:
“AMS officials stated that they have implemented procedures to assess the effectiveness of a retailer's recordkeeping system. In the event that a retailer meets the criteria for a followup review and had a recordkeeping finding in the initial review, additional records (a total of 8) will be reviewed during the followup review to verify the retailer is conveying accurate country of origin information and retaining complete records for 1 year.
In a supplemental e-mail response dated June 29, 2011, AMS officials addressed an OIG concern about testing additional records during the initial review. They proposed that in the event that records are made available during the initial retail surveillance review and noncompliances are noted, an additional eight records for covered commodities will be requested and evaluated during the initial review. AMS plans to implement the revised recordkeeping evaluation procedures by August 2011.”