USDA Releases National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard

  • On January 16, 2019

On December 20, 2018 USDA released its final rules for National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS). The implementation date is January 1, 2020. Compliance with the standard is voluntary until December 31, 2021.

The rule establishes specific requirements for disclosing whether a product is a bioengineered food. The definition of bioengineered food in the rule matches the definition in the statute, which states: “Food must contain genetic material that has been modified through in vitro recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) techniques for which the modification could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature to be subject to the BE disclosure requirement.” Voluntary labeling is allowed for certain foods that do not meet the definition of “bioengineered food” but are derived from bioengineered crops or food.

A list of bioengineered foods (BE) is established to help companies determine if they may need to make a BE disclosure. The list includes: Alfalfa, Apple (ArcticTM varieties), Canola, Corn, Cotton, Eggplant (BARI Bt Begun varieties), Papaya (ringspot virus-resistant varieties), Pineapple (pink flesh), Potato, Salmon (AquAdvantage®), Soybean Squash (summer) and Sugarbeet.

USDAFor refined foods or ingredients that are derived from BE sources (e.g., corn syrup derived from BE corn), no disclosure is required if the food does not contain detectable modified genetic material. A threshold is established for the inadvertent or technically unavoidable presence of bioengineered substances of up to five-percent for each ingredient. Any intentional BE presence would trigger disclosure. In the final rule, USDA pointed to the express preemption of State law included in the underlying statute. For more information, visit the USDA website.

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