U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has primary responsibility for the regulation of food labeling for meat and poultry products, as well as labels that explain aspects of agricultural production, such as bioengineered products or genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

In December 2018, USDA finalized the National Bioengineered (BE) Food Disclosure Standard, which requires mandatory and uniform labeling for certain BE foods and products made with BE food ingredients. The standard states that foods from animals that eat bioengineered feed will not be considered bioengineered food products. That means milk from these animals and products made with this milk will not require a disclosure statement. The rule goes into effect on January 1, 2022.

Our Position

IDFA believes the standard will provide a consistent, national standard that preempts contradictory state laws. The standard reflects IDFA’s request for incidental additives to be exempt, and enzymes such as microbial rennet will only require labeling if modified genetic material is used. IDFA appreciates the 2022 compliance date, which will allow companies to use up existing stock and spread costs for the new labels over three years.  

IDFA has prepared a detailed webinar (here) to help members understand the provisions and prepare for compliance. We’re also offering guidance to companies that request individual assistance.  

Disclosure Details

Food companies may use one of four disclosure options on product labels:

  1. Text using the words “bioengineered food” or “bioengineered food ingredients”
  2. A symbol with accompanying words
  3. Electronic disclosure, such as a hyperlink or QR code, along with a phone number for more information
  4. A phone number consumers can use to text their request for the disclosure

Other Highlights

For more information, contact Danielle Quist, IDFA senior director, regulatory affairs and counsel, at dquist@idfa.org.

Staff Contact

Danielle Quist

Vice President, Regulatory Affairs and Counsel