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Born, raised and slaughtered in...

A side of beef gets the USDA inspection stamp.

Lisa Napoli: It turns out the Food and Drug Administration isn't necessarily keeping such close tabs on the nation's food supply. Word is they inspect less than 1 percent of all imported food. A typical inspector in one office looks at a thousand food items a day, or one every 30 seconds. So says the Wall Street Journal. That information was leaked in advance of today's subcommittee hearing on the Hill about food safety after the tainted Chinese products scare. One idea lawmakers have been floating around for a while has to do with country-of-origin labeling on certain products. From Washington, Jeremy Hobson says now that idea just might have legs.


Jeremy Hobson: Country-of-origin labeling became mandatory on many food products in 2002, but strong lobbying by big meat producers has delayed most implementation until next year.

Now lawmakers are trying to push that deadline up. That's partly because of concern about the safety of imported foods, says Chris Waldrop at Consumer Federation of America.

Chris Waldrop: I think the consumer wants to have more information about the source of their food and where their food is coming from when they're buying it in the supermarket."

But some meat producers are wary of mandatory labeling.

Janet Riley: This particular law doesn't require a label. It requires a biography.

Janet Riley is with the American Meat Institute.

Riley: The label would have to say where an animal was born, where it was raised, and where it was slaughtered.

She says that kind of information would be costly and difficult to keep track of.

Both sides doubt that new regulations will be in place this year, but say meat producers are eventually going to have to live with longer labels.

In Washington, I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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