A USDA National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, which requires US food manufacturers and importers to label food for retail sale disclosing information about its GMO content, becomes mandatory on 1 January 2022. Although the US food industry has two years to implement the new rule, a deadline of 1 January 2020 is when food manufacturers have to decide whether and how they will need to make GM ingredient disclosures, and what records they will be required to keep. The new rule does not cover foods, which are highly refined e.g. vegetable oils, where the GM DNA is not detectable, and small companies with less than US$ 2.5 million sales are exempt from disclosure.
However, many larger US companies are awaiting the US Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to issue guidelines on how the new rule will be enforced, and what will be required. AMS is committed to provide two different sets of instructions for use by food manufacturers, importers and certain retailers. The first set of instructions, released on 17 December 2019, covers how companies can validate or verify the accuracy of a refining process to render bioengineered material undetectable. AMS is taking comments on the draft instructions until 16 January 2020. AMS will publish a second set of instructions to provide guidance for companies on how to select testing methods to determine whether a food product or ingredient contains detectable levels of GM genetic material.
There is flexibility as to how GM foods are disclosed.Companies with annual sales of more than US $2.5 million can use digital codes, list BE ingredients in text on their label, put one of two BE symbols on their packaging, or supply consumers with a number they can text to receive information via their cellphone. In addition to these, companies with $2.5 million to $10 million in annual revenues can also disclose via a website or a phone number that consumers can call to hear the disclosure. Industry sources say they expect most companies to disclose GM ingredients via digital codes, such as the SmartLabel system.
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