Non-GMO Label Allowed for Organic Meat and Poultry Products

The federal agency in charge of the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products recently implemented a procedure that allows labels for certified organic meat and poultry products to include a “Non-Genetically Engineered” statement.

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)—a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—unveiled a 3-step procedure for the labels earlier this year.

The first step is for a company to write a letter to FSIS on the company letterhead that includes the FSIS approval number for their current organic label, a copy of the label, and the statement the company will include on the label. The statement can refer to the ingredients in a multi-ingredient product, or the feed provided to the animals during their production. The statement must also specify that USDA organic regulations do not allow the use of genetically engineered ingredients or animals fed with genetically engineered feed to be labeled as organic.

FSIS offers this example of a valid label claim: “The beef used in this product is fed a diet that contains non-genetically engineered ingredients. The USDA organic regulations prohibit the use of Genetically Engineered Feed Ingredients.” 

The second step is acknowledgment by FSIS that the claim is valid, and the third step is verification during an inspection of the operation.

On the USDA’s blog, Miles McEvoy, Deputy Administrator of the National Organic Program, wrote that the newly allowed label resulted from a collaboration between USDA agencies and is part of a larger effort initiated by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to integrate organic agriculture into all agency programs and services.

For more information on the labeling procedure, visit the FSIS website