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Bill Aims to Regulate GMO and Natural Food Labeling

On March 15, 2015, Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., and G. K. Butterfield, D-N.C., reintroduced the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, a bill that aims to, among other things, modify the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act to include regulations for labeling food products as natural, genetically modified (GMO), and Non-GMO.

According to Pompeo’s fact sheet on the bill, “nearly 30 states are attempting to require government warning labels on food products containing ingredients derived from biotechnology.”  Pompeo believes GMO foods are safe and fears that warning labels will mislead consumers and lead to higher food prices.  Pompeo believes the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 will avoid these outcomes while still allowing Non-GMO food manufacturers to advertise their foods as such.

Labeling Foods as GMO and Non-GMO

The bill directs the Secretary to promulgate regulations for permissible levels of bioengineered organisms (another term for GMO organisms) that a food may consist of and still be labeled as Non-GMO.  Foods would be deemed misbranded if they claimed to be Non-GMO without complying with the regulations set by the Secretary.

The bill prohibits the Secretary from requiring GMO food labels to declare the use of bioengineering “solely because the food was developed with the use of bioengineering”. The bill also states that neither GMO nor Non-GMO food labels can claim or imply to be safer than the other.

Along with the regulations above, the bill aims to establish a USDA-accredited certification program for non-bioengineered foods, similar to the USDA-Certified Organic program.  The program would be added to the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946. The Secretary would establish criteria that products would need to meet to be deemed “certified Non-GMO.”  The Secretary would then accredit “certifying agents” who could work to identify agricultural products eligible to be certified Non-GMO.

Labeling Foods as Natural

As of now, there are no requirements for use of the term “natural” and similar terms on food labels. The bill directs the Secretary to establish regulations for labeling food products with “natural claims”, such as  “natural”, “100% natural”, “naturally grown”, “all natural,” “made with natural ingredients”, and other terms defined by the Secretary.  Foods labeled as natural that do not fit the standard defined by the Secretary would be deemed misbranded.

If the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 is enacted, the Secretary of Health and Human Services will have 12 months to issue proposed regulations and 24 months to issue final regulations to amend the FD&C Act.  The Secretary of Agriculture would have 24 months to carry out the Certified Non-GMO program.

Registrar Corp stays up-to-date on U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food labeling regulations.  We will continue to update industry as the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 progresses through Congress.

U.S. FDA food labeling regulations are constantly changing, so it can be difficult to identify the most recent requirements.  Registrar Corp’s Label and Ingredient Review Specialists can review a food product label for FDA Compliance.  When Registrar Corp conducts a review of your label, you will receive a detailed report that documents all FDA regulations applicable to your label and a print-ready graphic file of your revised label.  For questions or assistance with FDA food labeling requirements or other food and beverage regulations, contact Registrar Corp at +1-757-224-0177 or chat with a Regulatory Advisor 24-hours a day at www.registrarcorp.com/livehelp.

To view the full text of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, click here.