The USDA AMS has issued the proposed US national bioengineered food disclosure standard. The requirement for food labeling of genetically modified products and ingredients will allow the US consumers to have knowledge of what is and isn’t produce from genetic modification.

SAFEGUARDS | Food NO. 066/18

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The United States Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA AMS), on May 4, 2018, issued the proposed regulations for the US national bioengineered food disclosure standard [1].

The period allowing comments to be made regarding this proposed labeling requirement ends July 3, 2018. The implementation of this regulation will allow those consumers that want to know if a product was produced using bioengineering or has ingredients produced using bioengineering technologies. Currently, 64 countries have labeling requirements relating to disclosure of whether a product and/or ingredient has been produced using genetic engineering.

The USDA AMS has defined bioengineered (BE) food and substance (matter) that contains genetic material that has been modified through in vitro recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) techniques and for which the modification could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature. This proposal   establishes how this is to be disclosed, any exemptions to this disclosure and the record keeping requirements. The compliance date for this disclosure will be January 1, 2020 except for small businesses which it will be January 1, 2021. These dates correspond with the US food and Drug Administration compliance dates for their new nutrition facts panel requirements [2].


The USDA AMS is proposing alternatives of how this disclosure needs to be presented. This of course can be disclosed through text such as “contains bioengineered ingredient” or “bioengineered food”. This can be disclosed via a symbol; the USDA has proposed three symbols which all include the letters “BE” in the symbol. This can be disclosed through a digit format. Small businesses have the additional option of a toll-free phone number and website on the packaging for the consumer to contact the company for the information.


The law itself excludes meat, poultry, dairy and egg products that come from animals that have eaten BE feed. Food service establishments, similar retail service establishments and very small businesses are excluded from this disclosure requirement. Also, products that are certified organic as recognized by USDA AMS as, based on those regulations, they are not bioengineered products and nor have ingredients.

Record keeping

Simply, companies are required to keep records of the bioengineered status and produce these records upon regulatory request and within five days of any request.

SGS has ISO 17205 accredited Genetically Engineered/BE testing facilities throughout the world that can perform screening and specific event testing. There are Non-GMO/GE audit certification programs available, Transparency One for traceability and record keeping solutions and a label review compliance teams to assure this and other label compliance.

Next step:

Suppliers or manufacturers are recommended to contact their local SGS office to obtain one or more of the many SGS solutions that will enable operations to remain in compliance with this and future regulatory changes.

SGS technical experts have extensive knowledge and testing experience in materials and articles in contact with food. They work to ensure that your products meet the appropriate regulations for food contact materials and pave the way for compliance. From overall migration test to expert advices on emerging regulations and compliance issues and documentation review, SGS is the partner to trust. Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information or visit our website.

For enquiries, please contact:

James Cook
Food Scientific and Regulatory Affairs Manager
t: +01 973 461 1493

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