FSIS Publishes Updated Guidelines for “Non-GMO” Labeling Claims
On December 30, 2019, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published updated labeling guidelines on “Statements That Bioengineered or Genetically Modified Ingredients or Animal Feed Were Not Used in the Production of Meat, Poultry, or Egg Products.” The guidelines, which were originally announced in August 2016, outline the agency’s approach of approving labels containing “not-bioengineered,” “not genetically modified,” or similar language (i.e., “negative claims”), provided that the claims have been verified by a third-party certifying organization.
In response to comments, FSIS clarified in the updated guidelines that it will continue to approve negative claims based either on FDA’s definition of “modern biotechnology” or the Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) definition of “bioengineering” contained in the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS). The agency will also continue to allow the use of synonymous terms such as “genetically engineered” or “GE.”
As previously reported on this blog, AMS published the final rule for the NBFDS on December 21, 2018. The rule established detection requirements for the definition of “bioengineered food,” created a list of bioengineered foods, and provided disclosure options for labeling of bioengineered foods, among other provisions.