Following the July 2016 enactment of the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, which sets a mandatory uniform national standard for biotechnology labeling of food, USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service ("FSIS") issued a compliance guidance regarding "Statements that Bioengineered or Genetically Modified ("GM") Ingredients or Animal Feed Were Not Used in Meat, Poultry, or Egg Products." In the past, FSIS has not allowed the use of terms like "non-GMO" unless the claims were in compliance with standards established by a third-party certifying organization. The new regulation provides that "a food may not be considered to be 'not bioengineered' or 'non-GMO,' or any other similar claim describing the absence of bioengineering in the food solely because the food is not required to bear a disclosure that the food is bioengineered." However, FSIS announced it will begin approving "genetically modified organism" or "GMO" terms in "negative claims" for meat, poultry, and egg products provided that the label or labeling is otherwise truthful and not misleading. FSIS still requires that the claims comply with third-party certification organization standards, including the identification of the third party's website on the label. The guidance, which is effective immediately, provides examples on how to use such claims and information regarding the labeling approval procedure.
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