On May 4, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) issued a proposed rule to implement the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (Bioengineered Food Standard). Congress passed the bioengineered food standard in 2016 to impose mandatory disclosures notifying consumers of products produced with genetic engineering. In passing the legislation, Congress introduced a new term that will become part of the common lexicon of the food industry: “bioengineered.”
Under the standard, certain human food manufacturers, retailers and importers will be required to notify consumers that a food is either bioengineered (BE) or contains BE contents. The bioengineered food standard will affect products regulated by the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); however, Congress provided exemptions that will permit a substantial proportion of FSIS-inspected products to avoid BE labeling requirements. Under the standard, BE labeling would be required only in the following circumstances: (1) in cases in which meat (FMIA), poultry (PPIA) or egg products (EPIA) are not the predominant ingredient; or (2) in cases in which water, broth or stock are the predominant ingredient, but the second-most predominant ingredient is not meat, poultry or egg products. There is one exception to the general exemption for most meat, poultry and egg products. If the animal products are produced through genetic engineering, they would be deemed “bioengineered.” But no such products are commercially available.