USDA approved a meat & egg label for GMO-free diet fed animals

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The U.S. Agriculture Department has approved a label including a claim about the absence of genetically engineered ingredients (like corn, soy and alfalfa) in the diet of animals providing meat and liquid egg products.Labeling foods to indicate the absence or presence of genetically engineered ingredients (or Genetically Modified Organisms, GMO) is among the top contentious topics in the food business today. About half the country’s states are mulling labeling requirements but the biotech industry is fiercely fighting back via lobbying.

Certified organic meats (that is, from non GMO-fed animals) is highly prized by some consumers. There is a USDA vetted process in place to authorize such claims on meat labels. Up until now though, no such process existed to allow the Non-GMO Project certification seal on a meat or egg product label.

Three meat companies (Mindful MeatsHidden Villa Ranch and Mary’s Chicken) who saw a benefit in adding this certification on their products labels banded together to petition the USDA and get an approval process. The Department vetted the Non-GMO Project’s standards, requirements and auditing processes, and put an authorization path in place to confirm the claims are truthful, accurate and not misleading before granting label approval.

While this does not affect the overall heated GMO labeling debate, this is the first time the Department regulating meat and poultry processing has approved a non-GMO label claim. More and more companies are voluntarily labeling their products, including most recently Chipotle, the restaurant chain, now pointing out items containing genetically engineered ingredients on its online menu so there is clearly an interest on the consumers’ end.

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Credit photo: GMO

* Up for some thought-sharing on this topic?  

genetically modified organism is an organism (like bacteria, yeasts, insects, plants, fish and mammals) whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. GMOs are the source of genetically modified foods and non-food products. Because there is no long-term scientific data available to determine if edible GMOs are safe for human consumption and health, some see the precautionary principle via labeling as the only way to allow consumers to make an educated choice when shopping for foods.

Consumers aware of GMOs want to know when they are used in food and those who are not familiar with GMOs certainly deserve the right to have all the information about their food options to make healthy choices.

  • Is this new measure going to set a precedent and open the door to non-GMO claim certification to more and more types of food and non-food products?
  • Does it matter to you to know if the foods you are buying have been or not genetically modified?

Let us know… 

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