For the first time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved a non-GMO label verifying that meat and liquid egg products have met the requirements of the Non-GMO Project‘s certification. In order to get this approval, proof has to be shown that the animals never ate feed containing genetically engineered ingredients like soy, corn or alfalfa.
The road to getting this label approved was not an easy one. According to Megan Westgate, Executive Director of the Non-GMO Project, the group spent more than a year seeking approval, having to submit documentation outlining how the organization assesses compliance in the process, the database and the training of inspectors. The Food and Drug Administration regulates most product labels in grocery stores with the exception of meat and liquid egg products.
In a recent New York Times article, USDA spokeswoman Cathy Cochran stated that the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service “allows companies to demonstrate on their labels that they meet a third-party certifying organization’s standards, provided that the third-party organization and the company can show that the claims are truthful, accurate and not misleading.”
Meat from animals that eat non-GMO feed has become more coveted as the debate around GE foods heats up within the United States. Just last fall, the USDA rejected a claim from Mindful Meats when they submitted a non-GMO label for their meats; at that time, the USDA had not created any rules regarding non-GMO products. While certified organic does fall under the stipulations of non-GMO, another category of non-organic, non-GMO brands are now able to offer to their consumers a verified third-party claim.
This is a big win for our right to know, showcasing the desire by both brands and consumers for greater transparency in our food system.