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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Page 83 of 91

percent of manufacturers, 2 percent of products, and 1 percent of food sales. AMS says that $2.5 million "offers significantly greater relief for small manufacturers while still having a relatively minor impact on the amount of information available to consumers." The Disclosure The Act explicitly states that food with GMO ingredients is not more or less safe than food without GMO ingredients. Three primary options for disclosure are provided, as well as alternative disclosure options for food in small or very small packages. There are three enti- ties responsible for disclosure: food manufacturers; importers; and certain retailers. The retailer would only be responsible if it packages food that is not part of fresh food prepared in store. Importers are subject to the same disclosure standards as domestic food manufacturers and must disclose if there are GMOs in the food. If the food would be expected to have a GMO ingredi- ent, such as corn or soy, the importer needs to have records that prove that there are no GMOs in the product. AMS states that it may recognize standards in equivalent countries, based on whether the country has mandatory BE labeling, what threshold require- ment is proposed, and what food products in that country are sub- ject to BE labeling. How to Disclose One option for BE disclosure is by text. AMS proposes using the terms "bioengineered food" or "bioengineered food ingredient" in that those are the terms in the legislation. It states that the alternative terms "genetically modified" or "genetically engineered" food should not be used. SFA strongly opposed this approach in its comments because "genetically modified" or "GMO" are the common terms understood by the food industry and consumers. Text disclosure must be on the information panels, the princi- pal display panel, or on an alternative panel if neither the informa- tion or principal display panel work. The information panel includes the nutrition facts, the ingredient list, and the manufacturer name and address. The principal display panel is where the statement of identity and net quantity statement are located. AMS recommends that the information panel be utilized but says that it also wants to provide f lexibility to industry. The text needs to be of sufficient size and clarity to be understood by consumers. Symbols are another means to communicate the presence of a bioengineered food or ingredient. AMS is proposing three sym- bol versions which are designed to "communicate the bioengineered status of a food in a way that would not disparage biotechnology or suggest BE food is more or less safe than non-BE food." These symbols can also be printed in black and white if a manu- facturer was concerned about design or printing cost. In its statement, SFA strongly opposed these symbols. The Association believes that the symbols are not strictly informative and that they convey that the GMO products are from nature and imply that they are healthy and better for you. The final recommended disclosure option is via electronic or digital link. These would most likely be QR codes that can be scanned by a smart phone. There would also need to be text that says, "Scan here for more food information." The disclosure would need to be on the first product information page provided by the link, without any marketing or promotional material and would need to conform to the size requirements of text or symbol disclosure. An alternative is via text message. The package would need to state "Text 'number' for more information." Disclosure for Small Food Manufacturers AMS is providing two additional disclosure options for small food manufacturers, which are defined as manufacturers with more than $2.5 million but less than $10 million in annual receipts. Small food manufacturers would also receive a one-year extension to comply beyond the initial date. Small food manufacturers could disclose via a telephone num- ber or website. The telephone number would need to say, "Call for more food information." A recorded message is acceptable but the notification of the presence of GMO materials would need to be communicated before any marketing or promotional information. Similar rules would apply to a website. For small packages, manufacturers could use a modified ver- sion of the electronic or digital link, a modified version of the text message, or a modified version of the telephone number option. USDA and AMS received tens of thousands of comments on the proposed regulation by the July 3 deadline. As they review industry and consumer input, some of the bioengineering imple- mentation regulations could alter, but the law will not. The specialty food industry should prepare to comply. AMS is proposing these symbols to communicate the status of BE foods in a non-disparaging way. Ron Tanner is vice president, philanthropy, government, and industry relations for the Specialty Food Association. FALL 2018 81

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