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USDA issues proposed regulations for bioengineered food disclosures

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a proposed rule that would set mandatory disclosure requirements regarding bioengineered food products produced or sold in the U.S.

Published in the U.S. Federal Register in early May, the proposed rule would require food manufacturers and other entities that label foods for retail sale to disclose information about bioengineered foods and bioengineered food ingredient contents. The rule would allow producers some flexibility in the method that they choose to disclose such information on food packaging, for example, using text such as “bioengineered food,” or through the use of one of three symbols proposed by the USDA that all include the letters “BE.”

If ultimately approved, compliance with the disclosure requirements would be effective January 2020. However small business entities will be given an additional year, until January 2021, to meet the requirements. These dates are the same as the implementation dates for new nutritional facts panel requirements issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The USDA’s action on bioengineered foods falls under the scope of the U.S. Agricultural Marketing Act as amended in July 2016, which requires the agency to establish a disclosure standard for any bioengineered food, and to establish requirements and procedures applicable to food producers and distributors.

The text of the USDA’s proposed rule on a mandatory bioengineered food disclosure standard as published in the U.S. Federal Register is available here. Comments on the proposed rule are due by July 3rd, and can be filed though the Federal eRulemaking portal here (reference Docket AMS-TM-17-0050).

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