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Country-Of-Origin Labelling

European Union’s COOL rules can be difficult to sort through

In an email dated Nov. 30, 2018, between Agriculture Canada staff, there was a background document on Poland’s move to introduce mandatory country-of-origin labelling for fresh potatoes. This was despite the Canada-European Union trade deal’s tariff elimination for fresh potatoes.

The Polish Vegetable and Potato Union complained about its ability to sell Polish products on both domestic and foreign markets and that Polish stores were mainly supplied with foreign products. Potatoes are one of the most important crops in the EU, but legislators never reached an agreement for common rules for the potato market.

Mandatory Country-Of-Origin Labelling 
Poland mandates COOL on fresh potatoes sold loose or packaged but not processed potatoes in order to align the crop with COOL rules for fresh fruits and vegetables covered by marketing standards at the EU level.

The general rules for food labelling in the EU say COOL is permitted where its omission could mislead consumers as to the true country of origin of the final food and where there is a proven link between certain qualities of the food and its origin.

However, fresh potatoes used for human consumption are not covered by these rules because the potato sector opposed the enforcement of a European quality standard, the background document said. An access to information and privacy request acquired recently shows how complicated the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement is to sustain.


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