Agriculture Press Release

June 10, 1999

Foreign Labeling Violations Continue to Mount, Crawford Says

TALLAHASSEE Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford today announced that his Department has written 1,846 "Country of Origin Labeling" violations to supermarkets and other retail outlets in the last three-and-a-half years.

Stores that were cited failed to comply with Floridas Country of Origin Labeling statute a law requiring foreign-grown produce to bear stickers or labels indicating where it was grown.

"During the past 3 years, Florida has been inundated with foreign-grown fruits and vegetables," Crawford said. "The bottom line here is that Florida consumers deserve to know the source of the produce they buy at grocery stores."

Since 1996, inspectors have issued $217,600 in fines to 637 repeat offenders. Crawford has authorized inspectors to initially issue a notice of violation. If the store still is not in compliance when it is reinspected, a $200 fine is issued. Fines are doubled each time a store is guilty of subsequent violations up to a maximum fine of $5,000.

"Consumers have the right to know where the food they are eating comes from,"

Crawford said. "I am gratified to see that other states are looking at enacting their own Country of Origin Labeling law, and I am strongly supportive of a national law like this, as well."

To date, only Florida has a comprehensive law requiring labeling of foreign produce, but a number of other states are considering similar legislation.

Crawford has been at the forefront in efforts to get Congress to pass a national country of origin labeling law, but efforts so far have been unsuccessful.

The Commissioner said he believes that citizens have the right to know where the food they eat comes from. Some foreign countries do not have as strict sanitation regulations and pesticide laws as are in place in the United States.

"All of our major trading partners in 15 countries in Europe, as well as Canada, Mexico, Japan and many other countries, require country of origin labeling. Why cant we require the same information for the U.S. consumer?" Crawford said.


For more information:

Terence McElroy
(850) 488-3022

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