The Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service has issued a final rule establishing the new national mandatory bioengineered food disclosure standard, which requires food manufacturers, importers, and other entities that label foods for retail sale to disclose information about BE food and BE food ingredients. This rule is intended to provide a mandatory uniform national standard for disclosure of information to consumers about the BE status of foods, as required under legislation enacted into law in July 2016.

According to a USDA press release, the standard defines BE foods as those that contain detectable genetic material that has been modified through lab techniques and cannot be created through conventional breeding or found in nature. AMS developed the list of BE foods to identify the crops or foods that are available in a BE form throughout the world and for which regulated entities must maintain records.

The required records will inform regulated entities on whether the food must have a BE disclosure to be communicated to consumers. Regulated entities have several disclosure options: text, symbol, electronic or digital link, and/or text message. Additional options such as a phone number or web address are available to small food manufacturers or for small and very small packages.

The final rule establishes implementation dates of Jan. 1, 2020, for regulated entities other than small food manufacturers and Jan. 1, 2021, for small food manufacturers. AMS notes that regulated entities should begin implementing the standard no later than those dates by identifying the goods that will need to bear a BE disclosure, the records necessary to meet the recordkeeping requirements, and the type of BE disclosure they will use on their products. Regulated entities may voluntarily comply with the standard until Dec. 31, 2021, and mandatory compliance will begin Jan. 1, 2022.

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