New USDA Bioengineered Food Disclosure Rules

As of January 1, certain food manufacturers and others are required to disclose the presence of bioengineered food or ingredients on products labeled for retail sale in the U.S.-- National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. USDA has a “List of Bioengineered Foods” but even if the food or ingredient is not on the list, if the manufacturer has knowledge that it is bioengineered it must be disclosed.

Manufacturers are exempt if (a) annual receipts are less than $2,500,000; the product does not intentionally contain a bioengineered substance or has unavoidable presence of up to 5% for each ingredient; or the food is certified under the National Organic Program.

USDA cannot issue a recall or impose penalties for noncompliance, but it can investigate and publish its findings. However, manufacturer who fail to comply can be subject to false advertising lawsuits by consumers or unfair competition suits by competitors. For more information see Litigation Minute: New Bioengineered Food Disclosure Rules and Litigation Risks, National Law Review