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INGREDIENTS AND FLAVOURS

GMA urges USDA to mandate disclosure of bio-engineered F&B ingredients
Thursday, 05 July, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Washington, D C
The Grocery Manufacturers’ Association (GMA) called on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to require disclosure of refined ingredients derived from bio-engineered crops in food and beverage products in regulations for the federal labelling law.

“Our member companies have an unwavering commitment to meeting consumer demands for more information about the food and beverage products they purchase and consume,” said Leon Bruner, chief science officer, GMA.

“Consumers expect to know if a product contains an ingredient that was sourced from a bio-engineered crop, so it is essential that disclosure of this information be required under a final rule for the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard,” he added.

“Food and beverage manufacturers have a unique role and perspective as the most consumer-facing portion of the product supply chain, and their products are held to a high standard by consumers,” stated the association in its written comments on USDA’s proposed rule.

“If consumers do not believe that they are getting the transparency and ingredient information they demand, the repercussions will be felt most directly by the companies that make their food and beverage products,” it added. 

GMA also stressed in its comments that USDA’s decision on whether to require the disclosure of refined ingredients derived from bio-engineered crops will have a significant impact on the number of products that would be disclosed under the eventual final rule.

Roughly 90 per cent of the US corn, soybean and beet sugar crops are bio-engineered. As a result, a substantial number of food and beverage products contain refined ingredients that come from these products. GMA estimated that excluding refined ingredients from the scope of the mandatory disclosure standard would result in 78 per cent fewer products being disclosed under the federal law.

“Our ability to provide consumers with the information they seek – and in a way that they understand – will build trust in brands, industry and government institutions,” GMA said in its comments.

It added, “The ease with which the final regulations enable full disclosure of information to consumers will either support or diminish our ability to engage in a dialogue with consumers about technologies that improve lives, society and the environment.”

GMA also said that disclosure to consumers should occur when the cumulative weight of bio-engineered ingredients exceeds 0.9 per cent of a finished food product. This will provide consumers with a standard that is transparent while acknowledging that similar allowances for very small amounts of bioengineered ingredients are made in the United States for products certified as non-genetically-modified organisms (GMO).
 
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