Specialty Food Magazine

FALL 2018

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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BY RON TANNER The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard: What You Need to Know The Proposed Rule The proposed rule, which runs 106 pages, is "intended to provide for disclosure of foods that are or may be bioengineered in the interest of consumers, but also seeks to minimize implementation and compliance costs for the food industry—costs that could be passed on to consumers." Food that is sold for human consumption is covered by the rule; food for animals is not. The rule covers food, beverages, and ingredients. If a protein covered by the Federal Meat Inspection Act, Poultry Products Inspection Act, or the Egg Products Inspection Act is the first ingredient in the ingredient listing, bioengineered labeling is not required. In other words, a pork product that is produced from pigs that are fed GMO corn does not have to state that GMOs are in the product. There are four food ingredients that are likely to be genetically modified, including canola (90 percent); field corn (92 percent); soybeans (94 percent); and sugar beets (100 percent). Five genetically modified crops are not considered highly adopted because their market prevalence is below 85 percent. These include non-browning apples; sweet corn; papaya; potato; and sum- mer varieties of squash. AMS recognizes that these lists will change in the future as the biotech industry develops more products. The Exemptions There are two exemptions to the disclosure requirement: food served in a restaurant or similar food establishment and very small food manufacturers. These exemptions cover many SFA members. Few retailers will be required to label GMOs. The exemp- tion broadly defines "similar food establishment" as "a cafeteria, lunch room, food stand, saloon, tavern, bar, lounge, other similar establishment operated as an enterprise engaged in the business of selling prepared food to the public, or salad bars, delicatessens, and other food enterprises located within retail food establishments that provide ready-to-eat foods that are consumed either on or outside the retailer's premises." In other words, a supermarket or specialty food store that pro- duces food, such as a corn relish, would not need to label it as bio- engineered. However, products on the shelves that come from other manufacturers do need to be labeled. AMS has requested comments on this exemption and SFA has said that it is broad enough to cover the specialty food industry. The exemption which is most important to the specialty food industry is for "very small food manufacturers." The AMS defines very small food manufacturers as those with annual receipts of less than $2.5 million. This number is inconsistent with the definition of very small business used by the FDA for nutritional labeling, the Food Safety Modernization Act, and other FDA regulations. For nutritional labeling, FDA exempts companies with less than $100,000 in annual sales; for FSMA, less than $1 million in annual sales. SFA would prefer that the definition of very small business for GMO labeling be consistent with FDA's, and has stated that $1 million is more appropriate than $2.5 million. AMS employed a statistical method to arrive at its $2.5 million figure. According to methodology based on the 2012 Statistics of U.S. Businesses, 74 percent of food manufacturers would be exempt at $2.5 million, which would equate to 4 percent of products and just 1 percent of food sales. The $1 million figure would exempt 54 T he U.S. Department of Agriculture is close to issuing its final rule for the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, aka GMO labeling. A proposed rule was issued on May 3, 2018, with a 60-day comment period that closed on July 3, 2018. The rule is an outcome of a July 2016, Congressional Amendment to the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946. As you may recall, Vermont had enacted legislation that required all food producers to disclose whether they had genetically modified organisms in their prod- ucts, with an effective date of July 1, 2016. The Vermont law was a challenge for large and small food manufacturers and distributors, many of whom were not pleased with creating a different label based on state law. With support from the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Food Marketing Institute, and others, Congress passed a law that pre- empted state laws, including Vermont's. It requires that food manufacturers disclose the presence of bioengineered ingredients, but it allows this information to be communicated in many different ways and provides extensions and exemptions for small food manufacturers, very small food manufacturers, and most retailers. The rule is being administered by the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service. specialty food maker 80 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com

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