USDA streamlines process for 'non-GMO' label claims

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Organic meat, poultry producers may now use claim based on organic certification according to the USDA.

WASHINGTON – Producers of organic meat and poultry products can now obtain approval to use a “non-GMO” label claim based on their organic certification, the US Dept. of Agriculture reported.

Recently passed legislation led the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which administers the procedures, to add the process improvements. For example, FSIS may permit an expedited label claim for an organic poultry product that states “Chicken raised on a diet containing no Genetically Engineered ingredients.”

Under the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Act, organic certification is sufficient to make claims about the absence of bioengineered ingredients, USDA explained.  “Also, the Food and Drug Administration recently clarified its policy to accept claims that products do not contain genetically modified ingredients, including “non-GMO” statements.  This lets USDA grant additional labeling flexibility to organic producers and processors.”

USDA noted that non-GMO label claims must not confuse or mislead consumers.  Producers also may make a specific claim regarding the process that was accomplished without the use of genetically modified materials, but a clear statement that the USDA organic regulations prohibit the use of genetic engineering in the production of organic products must be included. FSIS will continue to verify proper label use during normal verification inspections and during routine NOP certification inspections which occur on an annual basis for organic producers.

The label approval procedures may be found on the FSIS website.

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By Clare Thorp 9/26/2016 1:21:30 PM
Interestingly, the organic standards DO allow the use of products derived from genetic engineering, such as vaccines, and organic cheese is frequently made using rennet derived from GMO microbes (which is a good thing, rather than rennet from a dead baby calf' stomach). It is somewhat disingenuous to allow organic producers to use a "non GMO" label without track and trace to prove their adherence to this, rather than assume that compliance with the organic standard is equivalent, when it isn't. Organic farmers also use "toxic" pesticides (they just can't use synthetic pesticides), and yet there are a number of labels out there which claim that they don't. If we are going to insist on the "right to know", then it should cut both ways.