USDA Publishes Proposed GMO Labeling Standard


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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently published the proposed Bioengineered (BE) Food Disclosure Labeling standard outlining the proposed GMO labeling requirements. The proposed standard provides a few possibilities on the applicability and manner in which foods should be labeled and requests comments on most of the proposed requirements. As of now, the proposed standards would require BE food labeling on raw produce, seafood, dietary supplements, most prepared foods (e.g. breads, cereals), non-meat canned and frozen foods, snacks, desserts, drinks and food that would be labeled per the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The proposed requirements do not apply to animal feed and certain products that are predominantly meat, poultry, or egg. The standard proposes the definition of BE food as, “food that contains genetic material that has been modified through in vitro recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) techniques and for which the modification could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding found in nature.”

The proposed standard requires either a text disclosure, symbol, and/or electronic digital link disclosure on products that contain ingredients or are found on a list of highly adopted commercially available BE foods and, when applicable, on the not highly adopted BE food list. There are three proposed tolerances outlined for unintentional and unavoidable BE contamination in products. The proposed standard also exempts food served in a restaurant, deli, or other “food enterprises within retail establishments that provide ready-to-eat foods” as well as food derived from animals fed BE feed and products that are already certified as organic.

The BE Food Disclosure Standard is open for comments until July 3, 2018. It should be noted that the USDA has already announced that the comment period will not be extended due to the Congressionally mandated timeline (the compliance date for the final rule per the Act is July 29, 2018).

The proposed BE food labeling standard would take effect at the same time as the recently published U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) update that formally extends the Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts label requirements from July 26, 2018 to January 1, 2020 for Manufacturers that make $10 million or more in annual food sales. Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales have until January 1, 2021. 

Click to view the Federal Register posting extending the Nutrition labeling compliance dates.

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