Meat products from animals raised without the use of genetically modified grains can be labeled as such, ruled the USDA in the first label ruling in the U.S. of its kind, reports the New York Times.
The Non-GMO Project, which certifies a number of non-GMO products, can now put its label on meat and liquid egg products that the organization has verified as being GMO-free. While the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service allows companies to include the third-party certification labeling on meat products, agency spokesperson Cathy Cochran said the approval did not represent any new regulations or policies for the USDA on genetically modified organisms.
Claire Herminjard, founder and chief executive of Mindful Meats, which makes meat products from organic dairy cows told the Times that when the company submitted a label with the Non-GMO Project certification on it last fall, the agency rejected the label: “It turned out that the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service had not yet created a rule for handling non-GMO claims for meat and poultry products, so they just denied us.”
Mindful Meats is just one of the growing number of companies focused on raising animals without GMO diets. With the agency’s new announcement, many more are expected to include the Non-GMO Project seal on meat and egg products as consumer demand for non-GMO foods is on the rise. According to the Times, “Labeling foods to indicate the absence or presence of genetically engineered ingredients is one of the most contentious issues in the food business today, with about two dozen states mulling labeling requirements and the biotech industry fighting back with intense lobbying.”
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