The grocery industry has expressed its support of the publication of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) final National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard rule, which, according to the Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute (FMI), “provides a consistent way to provide transparency regarding the foods we sell and allows our customers across the country the means to learn more about grocery products containing bioengineered ingredients.”
FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin commended the USDA “for introducing a more precise vocabulary into the public discourse regarding biotechnology in food production,” and expressed her group’s aim of “working with the department to promote consumer understanding of the terminology in this rapidly emerging field.”
Added Sarasin: “FMI enthusiastically supported the legislative process to pass the 2016 bill calling for the establishment of a clear and uniform national standard that would provide grocery shoppers with understandable information regarding products containing bioengineered ingredients. We have been working closely with USDA and our coalition partners throughout the supply chain to ensure the final rule provides consistency and clarity to the customers shopping in any of our membership’s 33,000 retail food stores.”
She also affirmed the organization’s ongoing collaboration with USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and food retailers and wholesalers across the country to roll out the disclosure standard, and promised a thorough review the final rule’s new requirements.
At the Arlington-based National Grocers Association, which advocates for the independent grocery sector, EVP Greg Ferrara noted: “Consumers are increasingly seeking information on the food products they buy and eat, and as a linchpin in the food supply chain, independent grocers support a national labeling standard for food products that is consistent and transparent. While we’ll continue to review USDA’s rule, we appreciate the agency’s efforts to advance a uniform standard that will provide consumers with access to information on the food choices they make.”
“Consumers demand transparency, period,” said Karin Moore, SVP and general counsel at the Washington, D.C.-based Grocery Manufacturers Association, adding that “the USDA made a sound decision to empower industry to give them more information about the products they consume, how they were made and where they come from.”
Continued Moore: “Disclosure is imperative to increasing transparency, educating consumers and building trust of brands, the food industry and government. We are pleased that the USDA has now provided a structure for our companies to share this information voluntarily, building a foundation for government to more quickly respond to innovation in food and agriculture in the future.”
The standard, which requires food manufacturers, importers and others that label foods for retail sale to disclose information about bioengineered food and food ingredients, will go into effect 60 days after its expected publication in the Federal Register on Dec. 21.