Thursday, September 15, 2016

Negative Labels and Living under the DARK Act.

Negative labeling - that is, labeling stating that a product does NOT contain genetically engineered food (or GMOs as commonly known) -- has been the subject of much confusion of late.  In August of this year the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) issued an updated directive in this regard.  To open this document which was updated August 19, 2016, click here.
Example of Negative Label 

This is a complex situation because while FSIS did not previously allow  "negative claims" (that is, claims that a product did not contain GMOs),  there was no effective enforcement mechanism for this and a number of products were simply labeled as GMO free with no consequences.

Private certifying entities such as the Non-GMO Project could function legally because words "Non-GMO" appeared on labels bearing their organizational name and made no other claims on food packages.

But now, at least according to the terms in the above document, FSIS  will allow "negative labeling" for certain categories of foods, all foods that are animal derived.  (meat, poultry and egg products not containing or derived from livestock fed GMO feed.)

An excellent analysis of this new FSIS directive has been prepared  by food reporter Maxwell Goldberg at his "Living Maxwell" website.   To download this analysis please click here.  This is a an important and confusing topic and this analysis is worth careful reading.
Note however that at this point it does not apply to plant-derived foods.

If you are interested in a broader general description (although dated) analysis of the work of the USDA Food Safety & Inspection Services (FSIS) in general, click here.

Continue to look for the Non-GMO Project Verified label and/or the USDA Organic label on your foods!

Now that the DARK Act will likely make it more difficult than ever to avoid NON-GMO foods, the Non-GMO Project offers help in the current issue of their newsletter:  "Living non-GMO -- THE BUTTERFLY: The Lifestyle Newsletter of the Non-GMO Project.  To see this issue please click here.   Or visit the Non-GMO Project website at