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Analytical Chemistry

USDA relaxes guidelines for non-GMO food labels

by Britt E. Erickson
August 29, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 34

Manufacturers are now allowed to use the terms “genetically modified organism” or “GMO” on U.S. food labels to make claims that genetically engineered ingredients are not present in a meat, poultry, or egg product. Previously, use of the terms was only allowed on these so-called negative claims if they were part of the name of a third-party certifier, such as the Non-GMO Project. USDA’s Food Safety & Inspection Service released the new guidelines on Aug. 19, providing examples of labels that are acceptable for products that don’t contain GMOs or livestock that were not fed GMO ingredients. The action was prompted by a GMO food labeling law enacted in July. The law requires USDA to develop a national GMO labeling standard and rules for non-GMO food labeling. USDA relies on third-party certification organizations to verify that products do not contain GMOs. The new guidelines clarify that organic certification is sufficient to support a label claiming that a product does not contain GMOs.

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Credit: USDA
Companies can use organic certification to support claims that products do not contain genetically modified ingredients, USDA says.
Credit: USDA
Companies can use organic certification to support claims that products do not contain genetically modified ingredients, USDA says.
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