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Volume 16, Number 4 - April 2016

Hello from Food Label News! We join other food labelers in anticipation of new nutrition labeling regulations. While the earliest possible release date was last month, we learned in our Food Label Community that we will have a longer wait. Nevertheless, we will bring you all you need to know when news is available. The status of GMO labeling is the feature this month as Vermont prepares to make history. Read about the impending GMO laws in the lead article as well as information about existing Organic rules in Reader Q&A.

In this issue you'll find:


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GMO Labeling Limbo

What's News in the Food Label Community

Reader Q&A: Organics Free of GMOs?


Karen C. Duester, President

GMO Labeling Limbo

Labeling GMO or non-GMO – that is the question. For the State of Vermont, it's a question no longer. As of July 1, 2016, Vermont will be the first state to enforce labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods. If a food is in consumer terms "genetically modified" then a statement of that fact must be declared on the label where it can be easily viewed by consumers. Will Vermont be the tipping point for other states or will federal regulations pre-empt individual state labeling requirements?

Reader Favorites

California says NO to GMO labeling in 2012


In November 2015, FDA published Final Guidance on voluntary labeling of non-GE ingredients. The guidance outlines the proper use of the claim and claim substantiation requirements. A key component is FDA's strong preference for terms such as "not bioengineered," "not genetically engineered" or "not modified through the use of modern biotechnology" rather than the term "non-GMO." This guidance is based on the 1992 "Statement of Policy: Foods Derived from New Plant Varieties" that found no material difference between GE and non-GE food and that food derived from genetic engineering is as safe as food derived from other sources.

While there have been efforts to stop the Vermont bill, including a lawsuit filed by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, a U.S. House bill passed last June, and a U.S. Senate bill proposed in February but stalled in March, the deadline still looms. Maine and Connecticut await the implementation in Vermont as both states have GMO labeling laws that will not go into effect until four nearby states also pass similar laws. While it is unlikely that other states will require GMO labeling within the next year, it is a real possibility for the future.

For food manufacturers who distribute their products in Vermont, the timing to implement GMO labeling is now. Do your homework to determine whether your food products contain GE ingredients. Some have proposed stickering products for sale in Vermont while other manufacturers such as Campbell’s and General Mills have committed to labeling GE foods nationwide. Stay close to the Food Label Community for updates and additional news on implementation of this law.

What's News in the Food Label Community

Nutrition Facts Label changes soon? (10+ comments)

Synopsis of restaurant menu labeling (11+ likes)

Nutrition Facts Label "fanciful" serving sizes (6+ comments)

Protein claims (6+ comments) and (10+ comments)

Is wheat grass an allergen? (10+ comments)

Join Food Label Community. Already a member, view Discussions.

Reader Q&A

Find answers to our readers' questions or send us your question for an upcoming issue.


I would like to know the federal law requiring that organic food products be free of "any" genetically modified seed or ingredients. Is there such a law?   
P.H., California, Author 


Yes, National Organic Program rules specify that genetic engineering (GE) is prohibited for products that claim Organic on food labels. In fact, USDA organic regulations require that farmers and processors show they do not use GE seeds or ingredients and they are protecting their products from cross-contact with these substances. USDA's National Organic Program certification takes extra care to ensure that production standards and manufacturing practices are followed. Read more.

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