WASHINGTON – The US Department of Agriculture approved a label for meat from animals fed a diet free of genetically modified ingredients, according to a New York Times report. This is the first time the agency has approved a label claim for non-GMO meat.

The label means that meat certified by the Non-GMO Project came from animals that were not fed genetically modified ingredients such as corn, soy or alfalfa. The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization that offers third-party verification and labeling for non-GMO food and products. Independent natural food retailers started the project with the goal of providing their customers information regarding GMOs.

Mindful Meats announced its Non-GMO Project verification in December 2012. It claims to be the first company to offer certified non-GMO meat in the United States. The company raises USDA certified organic beef in West Marin and Sonoma counties in Northern California. The cattle spend an average of five years on pasture, with 20 percent of their diet coming from organic silage, alfalfa and grains, according to the company's web site.

“I started Mindful Meats after learning that livestock consumes the largest percentage of US commodity grains, most of which are genetically engineered,” Mindful Meats co-founder Claire Herminjard, said at the time. “Our team sees our role in improving our nation’s food supply by building a meat company that focuses on transparency and accountability. We are honored to bring healthy protein to families who are looking for alternatives to conventionally produced meats.”

USDA initially rejected the non-GMO claim because the agency did not have a standard for such claims.