USDA Loosens Rules on Labeling Meat, Poultry as Non-GMO

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By Casey Wooten

Aug. 19 — The USDA will begin allowing meat, poultry and egg producers to put labels such as “contains no GMO ingredients” or “derived from beef fed no GMO feed” on products that are not made with genetically engineered ingredients or animal feed.

The Aug. 19 guidance is one of the first Agriculture Department actions to stem from a recently enacted law on GMO labeling. The guidance, which takes effect immediately, gives food makers information and examples on how to label products as non-GMO, known as a negative claim.

Previously, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) only allowed the use of the phrases “GMO” and “genetically modified organism” on livestock or poultry labeling if it was part of the name of a third-party certifying organization, such as “Non-GMO Project,” the USDA said. But the law enacted July 29 that created a nationwide, voluntary GMO labeling system (Pub. L. No. 114–216) also set rules for labeling products as GMO-free (See previous story, 07/15/16).

“Therefore, FSIS has reconsidered its position and will allow the use of the terms ‘genetically modified organism' or ‘GMO' in negative claims provided that the label or labeling is otherwise truthful and not misleading,” the USDA said.

Labeling Law

The new law gives the USDA two years to create and finalize rules implementing the law, though the rulemaking process might face challenges. Analysts say the USDA will need to cooperate with the Food and Drug administration to avoid conflicts on labeling requirements. Moreover, they say the USDA will need to clarify which types of genetic engineering fall under the scope of the law.

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To contact the editor responsible for this story: Heather Rothman at

For More Information

Text of the guidance is available at

Text of the accompanying notice is here:

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