Regulatory Updates 5/10/18

May 10, 2018

USDA Publishes Proposed Rule on GMO Disclosure

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has published a proposed rule to implement the bioengineered foods disclosure standard.  This 2016 law requires food manufacturers to disclose ingredients that are bioengineered – which AMS abbreviates “BE” but means the same thing as the more common term “genetically engineered” or “GMO.”

The proposed regulation, open for comment for 60 days, provides multiple options for comment on some of the most controversial aspects of disclosure.  For example, AMS asks for comment on whether bioengineered content disclosure should be required for highly-refined ingredients like beet sugar, high-fructose corn syrup or soybean oil.   Manufacturers of these products state disclosure should not be required because genetic material does not survive the refining process.

On the issue of greatest concern to egg producers, the proposed rule is consistent with the law.  UEP and other animal agriculture groups lobbied successfully for a provision that states animal products do not have to disclose BE content solely because of the feed the animals consumed.  This means that eggs do not have to disclose BE content regardless of whether hens ate feed from bioengineered corn and soybeans.

AMS did not provide any guidance on “absence claims” like “GMO-free” or “non-GMO,” except that organic products are automatically entitled to make these claims.  For non-organic products, the regulation is silent and commercial practice in the marketplace varies substantially.  Some, but not all, certifying agents for absence claims require the use of non-BE feed.  Producers wishing to make a claim should consult counsel.

Good News About Eggs for Diabetics

A new study found no connection between a high-egg diet and risk factors for cardiovascular disease among people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Some experts have advised people with T2D to limit egg consumption.  However, the study examined people in this population on a diet of at least 12 eggs per week and found that they had similar outcomes on risk markers (blood lipids, glycemia, etc.) as people on a 2-egg-a-week diet.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggests that “it is safe for persons at high risk of T2D and those with T2D to include eggs, an acceptable and convenient food source, in their diet regularly.”  They emphasized that eggs should be consumed as part of an overall healthy diet.                                                                                                                  

Nutrition Facts Label to be Enforced January 1, 2020

The Food and Drug Administration issued a final rule that moves the enforcement date for the revised Nutrition Facts panel to January 1, 2020.  FDA had proposed this same date earlier, but companies could not technically rely on the date until it became a final rule.

Companies – including egg producers – are free to use the revised Nutrition Facts label now, but do not technically have to do so until 2020.  The new label allows voluntary labeling of choline, a nutrient found in eggs, that is critical to brain and cognitive development.