What is “COOL?”

Country of origin labeling (COOL) refers to the inclusion of a food product’s country of origin on its labeling. Initially signed into law in 2002, mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) has been at the forefront of food manufacturers’ and processors’ concerns for more than a decade.

Mandatory COOL currently exists for:

  • Muscle cuts of beef, veal, lamb, pork, chicken, and goat
  • Ground beef, veal, lamb, pork, chicken, and goat
  • Fish and shellfish (wild and farm-raised)
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Peanuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts
  • Ginseng

The following food products are excluded from COOL:

  • Processed food items defined as having a “change of character” (examples would include smoked, cooked, or cured foods)
  • Food combined with another food component

Shifting Requirements, Continued Uncertainties

Ever since it was first introduced into law, the effectiveness, practicality, and overall benefit of COOL has been debated among lawmakers, specialists, and the public. For years, more and more categories of food have found themselves being added under the umbrella of mandatory COOL requirements. This trend is changing, however, as the recently-passed  Country of Origin Labeling Amendments Act seeks to remove COOL requirements for beef, pork, and chicken products.

For the most accurate, up-to-date information, and to determine if your organization is subject to COOL, please visit www.ams.usda.gov/COOL.

bcFood is “COOL!”

Regardless of which way the regulatory wind blows when it comes to COOL laws, bcFood allows our current and future clients to maintain the necessary level of COOL compliance.

Country of Origin Information

The first step in achieving COOL compliance within an ERP environment is allowing users to capture a purchased product’s country of origin at the moment of receipt. bcFood takes this to another level by making it possible to define default country of origin settings for your various vendor records. When you receive item lots into inventory, the default country of origin will be automatically assigned to these records. This becomes one less value for your users to enter, streamlining the overall receiving process and preventing erroneous data entry. This means you’ll always have the information you need for your customers – even if it is used in a co-mingled, or blended, product. With a simple report, you can present the country of origin from each item lot used in a process. This information can be supplied to your customers at the time of shipment.

End-to-End Traceability

Capturing COOL information at the time of receipt is worthless if this data cannot be obtained going forward. Because country of origin information is recorded at the item lot level, bcFood is able to maintain this information from the point of receipt, through one or more production activities, packaging, movements throughout the warehouse, and, finally, as part of each and every shipment to the customer. With just a few clicks of the mouse, the Lot Trace function provides supply-to-demand traceability, which can be easily exported to customer or vendor lists for recall or informational purposes. What this means is that, if a single lot of a raw material is used to produce one hundred different finished goods, you can obtain COOL data for all one hundred items in no time.

Real-Time Processing

bcFood is developed within Microsoft Dynamics NAV, the world’s most widely-used ERP application. Dynamics NAV is a real-time solution, meaning that, when a transaction is entered, it is immediately saved. Depending on the type of transaction, the impact of the activity may become immediately apparent within other areas of the system. For example, as soon as an item is entered on a sales line, the available quantity of that item is updated. There is no need to post or register the sales order in order for this new information to become visible and usable in other areas of the system. When it comes to COOL compliance, this is useful, as it provides us with availability information for items that are still awaiting shipment. In the event that a compliance issue arises, this level of visibility prevents the exacerbation of a bad situation. For example, questionable items that are staged for shipment could be recalled before they ever have a chance to leave the facility.

Complete Integrity

Database integrity is critical to any environment in which compliance (COOL or otherwise) plays a major role. Dynamics NAV maintains integrity through an architecture designed for versioning and complete record audits. In many systems, detailed and summarized information is stored in separate, multiple files. Under certain conditions, these files become unsynchronized with each other or, even worse, corrupted. Dynamics NAV prevents this from happening due to a design that eliminates redundant data. In NAV, summary information is calculated from and comprised of transactional data, allowing users to be confident that details will always equal summarized values. Dynamics NAV also utilizes a “versioning” technology that forces incomplete database updates to automatically roll back to their previous state, therefore eliminating the primary cause of corruption.

As a final note, transactional details are always maintained within the database. Records cannot be deleted under normal use (well, they can, but it’s a challenge), and because of this, transactional audit trails always exist. If you need to report on a purchase or sale of a particular product a year (or several years) after its use, Dynamics NAV can quickly and easily produce the record.

A Proven Solution

Given the design of bcFood and Dynamics NAV, you can rest assured that, coupled with proper, consistent business processes, you will have the necessary tools to comply with COOL.

For more details, or to obtain a review of your compliance and business practices, please e-mail or call us at (800) 456-8474.