First there was voluntary “Non-GMO” labeling. Now there will be mandatory labeling of Bioengineered (BE) food. Large companies are required to comply with the new rule by January 1, 2022.
While the agency abandoned earlier iterations of the BE logo that featured overt smiley faces, the symbol still leans towards the positive, denoting a serene sky and field.
This ruling keeps pace with the trend for more transparency in food labeling. Also noteworthy is the agency’s allowance for digital disclosures – so make sure your website is ready to work for you. (Hint: NK can help.)
Here’s what you need to know.
BE = Bioengineered
NBFDS = National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard
Bioengineered Food = Food “(A) that contains genetic material that has been modified through in vitro recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) techniques; and (B) for which the modification could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature.” 7 U.S.C. 1639(1)
Really, What Is BE?
The USDA will maintain a List of BE Foods that require disclosure.
- Apple (ArcticTM varieties)
- Eggplant (BARI Bt Begun varieties)
- Papaya (ringspot virus-resistant varieties)
- Pineapple (pink flesh)
- Salmon (AquAdvantage®)
- Squash (summer)
Implementation Date: January 1, 2020
Extended Implementation Date (for small food manufacturers): January 1, 2021
Mandatory Compliance Date: January 1, 2022
How do BE foods have to be labeled?
- In text: “Bioengineered food” or “Contains a bioengineered food ingredient”
- In symbol:
Download the symbols: https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/be
Where do you place the disclosure?
- On the information panel, next to the name and location of the manufacturer or distributor
- Anywhere on the principal display panel
- On an alternate panel if there is insufficient space to place the disclosure on the information panel or the principal display panel
Does this apply to everyone?
Small Food Manufacturers (annual receipts between $2.5 and $10 million), have two additional options: disclosure by telephone number and by internet website, such as:
- “Visit [Uniform Resource Locator of the website] for more food information.”
- “Scan for info.”
What else do I need to know?
Foods that have been processed to the point where you can’t detect the original genetic material, like canola oil, are exempt from BE labeling.
Call NK to kickstart your disclosure action plan and pass the compliance date with flying colors.