Food companies may wait until ‘last minute’ to comply with USDA’s bioengineered labeling rules

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One of the USDA-approved labels for 'bioengineered' food. Credit: USDA

In grocery store freezer cases, Impossible Foods’ ground plant-based meat stands out …. The unique part is on the back of the package. In the lower right-hand corner, above symbols proclaiming the product is halal and kosher, is the new USDA-approved “Bioengineered” product label.

Jan. 1 began the official implementation period for the labeling law, which was signed by President Barack Obama in 2016. Large food companies can now start using the symbol to show consumers information about ingredients that meet the government’s definition of bioengineered, more commonly known among consumers as GMOs.

According to the law, large manufacturers — those with more than $2.5 million in annual receipts — are required to have one of the approved forms of disclosure on their packages by Jan. 1, 2022. Attorneys and analysts told Food Dive they think most of the other products in the grocery store won’t be featuring the disclosure until then.

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“I don’t think a lot is going to happen quickly,” Jesse Zuehlke, general manager of Prime Label Consultants, told Food Dive. “I think my sense is people are feeling their way through this, and I think the supply chain is sort of trying to adjust.”

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