GMO Is Out, ‘Bioengineered’ Is In, As New U.S. Food Labeling Rules Take Effect

Joe Hernandez wrote . . . . . . . . .

Say goodbye to GMOs. The new term for foods created with a boost from science is “bioengineered.”

As of Jan. 1, food manufacturers, importers and retailers in the U.S. must comply with a new national labeling standard for food that’s been genetically modified in a way that isn’t possible through natural growth.

Consumers will begin to see labels on some foods that say “bioengineered” or “derived from bioengineering,” as the new federal standard takes hold and replaces the former patchwork of state-level requirements.

The change has been several years in the making. In 2016, Congress passed a law to establish a national benchmark for the labeling of genetically modified food in an attempt to give people more information about what they eat and standardize labels across the country. Sonny Perdue, who served as agriculture secretary during the Trump administration, announced the regulations in 2018.

“The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard increases the transparency of our nation’s food system, establishing guidelines for regulated entities on when and how to disclose bioengineered ingredients,” Perdue said at the time. “This ensures clear information and labeling consistency for consumers about the ingredients in their food.”

But critics say the rules devised by the U.S. Department of Agriculture will actually confuse consumers further and make it harder to know what’s in any given product. One advocacy group has even sued the USDA to try to block the new regulations from taking effect.

The new rules give food producers a few options

Some commonly bioengineered foods include corn, canola, soybeans and sugar beets. Most GMO crops are used for animal feed, according to the Food and Drug Administration. But they are also used to make ingredients that routinely find their way into human diets, such as cornstarch, corn syrup, canola oil and granulated sugar.

The USDA says that the list of items on its website isn’t exhaustive and that other foods with genetic modifications will be subject to the labeling rules.

Companies with products that qualify as bioengineered can comply with the new standard in several ways.

They can include text on food packages that says “bioengineered food” or “contains a bioengineered food ingredient.” They can also use two logos approved by the USDA.

Finally, they can include a QR code for consumers to scan or a phone number for them to text that will provide more information about that food item.

The new standard applies to genetically modified foods as well as foods with genetically modified ingredients that are “detectable” by certain standards.

Shoppers who suspect an unlabeled item is actually a bioengineered food can file a complaint with the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

Establishments like restaurants don’t have to comply with the new rule, but they can do so voluntarily.

The logos are confusing and the rules don’t go far enough, critics say

The Center for Food Safety, one advocacy group opposed to the new standard, says it makes it easier for companies to conceal what’s in their products and leaves consumers in the dark.

Although there’s no evidence that genetically modified crops are harmful to human health, according to the National Academy of Sciences and the World Health Organization, advocates say people still deserve to know what they’re eating.

“These regulations are not about informing the public but rather designed to allow corporations to hide their use of genetically engineered ingredients from their customers,” Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, said in a statement.

The group has sued the USDA in federal court in an attempt to block the new rules. The case remains ongoing.

The new standard doesn’t allow producers to use more common labeling terms like “GMO,” the lawsuit argues, and it will leave out many foods that are “highly refined” or contain levels of bioengineered ingredients that aren’t detectable, such as soda and cooking oil. The group estimates that the majority of genetically modified food are processed items with genetically modified ingredients.

Additionally, the new standard discriminates against the poor, the elderly, people who live in rural areas and minorities who may lack a smartphone or access to the internet, the group said. It also puts an “undue burden” on shoppers to scan food items in stores during a deadly pandemic, advocates have argued.

Producers have also argued that the rule changes come at a bad time, with the ongoing pandemic and supply-chain woes that’s making it a challenge to meet consumer demand, The Washington Post reported.

The USDA declined to comment for this story, citing the pending lawsuit. But a spokesperson for the agency told the Post that the new rules are meant to balance the desire to keep consumers better informed with the interest of minimizing costs for producers.

Despite other criticism, groups such as the American Soybean Association and the National Corn Growers Association praised the new standard when it was announced in 2018, saying it would create more transparency in the food industry.

Source: NPR

What’s New with the Nutrition Facts Label

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has updated the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods and drinks. FDA is requiring changes to the Nutrition Facts label based on updated scientific information, new nutrition research, and input from the public. This is the first major update to the label in over 20 years. The label’s refreshed design and updated information will make it easier for you to make informed food choices that contribute to lifelong healthy eating habits.

Number 1: Serving Sizes Get Real

Servings per container and serving size information appear in large, bold font. Serving sizes have also been updated to better reflect the amount people typically eat and drink today. NOTE: The serving size is not a recommendation of how much to eat.

  • The nutrition information listed on the Nutrition Facts label is usually based on one serving of the food; however some containers may also have information displayed per package.
  • One package of food may contain more than one serving.

Number 2: Calories Go Big

Calories are now in larger and bolder font to make the information easier to find and use.

2,000 calories a day is used as a guide for general nutrition advice. Your calorie needs may be higher or lower depending on your age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity level. Check your calorie needs.

Number 3: The Lows and Highs of % Daily Value

The percent Daily Value (%DV) shows how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a total daily diet. Daily Values for nutrients have been updated, which may make the percent Daily Value higher or lower on the new Nutrition Facts label. As a general guide:

  • 5% DV or less of a nutrient per serving is considered low.
  • 20% DV or more of a nutrient per serving is considered high.

Number 4: Nutrients – The Updated List

What information is no longer required on the label?

  • Calories from fat has been removed because research shows the type of fat consumed is more important than the amount.
  • Vitamin A and C are no longer required on the label since deficiencies of these vitamins are rare today. These nutrients can be included on a voluntary basis.

What information was added to the label?

  • Added sugars have been added to the label because consuming too much added sugars can make it hard to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits. Added sugars include sugars that are added during the processing of foods (such as sucrose or dextrose), foods packaged as sweeteners (such as table sugar), sugars from syrups and honey, and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices.
  • Vitamin D and potassium are now required to be listed on the label because Americans do not always get the recommended amounts. Diets higher in vitamin D and potassium can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and high blood pressure, respectively.

What vitamins and minerals stayed the same?

Calcium and iron will continue to be listed on the label because Americans do not always get the recommended amounts. Diets higher in calcium and iron can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and anemia, respectively.

Make the Label Work for You

Use the label to support your personal dietary needs—choose foods that contain more of the nutrients you want to get more of and less of nutrients you may want to limit.

More often, choose foods that are:

  • Higher in dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium.
  • Lower in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars.

Choosing healthier foods and beverages can help reduce the risk of developing some health conditions, such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and anemia.

Source: U.S. Food & Drug

Labels Showing Exercise Needed to Offset Food Helps

Robert Preidt wrote . . . . . . . . .

Would you change your grocery list if a food label said “Walk an hour to burn off the calories in this product”?

That’s the idea behind a new push to include food labeling that describes the amount of exercise needed to burn off calories consumed, the researchers behind a new study said.

This labeling approach “is a simple strategy that could be easily included on food/beverage packaging by manufacturers, on shelving price labels in supermarkets, and/or in menus in restaurants/fast-food outlets,” the study authors said in a journal news release.

For example, such labeling would show that a person would need to walk 42 minutes or run 22 minutes to burn off the 229 calories in a small bar of milk chocolate, said British researchers.

Analyzing data from 14 studies, the researchers found that people made healthier choices and ate less when confronted with exercise equivalents.

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For example, people chose an average of 65 fewer calories per meal when physical activity calorie equivalent or expenditure (PACE) labeling was displayed on food, beverages and menus.

The labeling was also associated with consumption of 80 to 100 fewer calories compared with no labeling or other types of labeling, according to the findings.

The results suggest that this labeling could lead to people consuming about 200 fewer calories a day, based on an average consumption of three meals and two snacks a day, the authors explained.

The results were published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

There were limitations, however. The researchers noted that they reviewed a small number of studies, the design of each study varied considerably, and most weren’t conducted in real-life settings, such as restaurants and supermarkets.

Even so, exercise labeling “shows some promise in reducing the number of [calories] selected from menus, as well as the number of calories and the amount of food consumed,” wrote Amanda Daley, a professor at Loughborough University School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, and colleagues.

Public health agencies may want to consider this as a strategy that contributes to the prevention and treatment of obesity and related diseases, the team concluded.

Source: WebMD

Danish Organisation Aims to Reduce Food Waste with New ‘Best Before’ System

New labelling on food packaging could help consumers in Denmark to cut down on food waste.

The new marking on a variety of products will change the way ‘best before’ information is given, accommodating products that can often be consumed after their store ‘sell-by’ dates.

The words ‘often good after’ (‘ofte god efter’) will be used on products including milk, beer and chocolate, according to Too Good To Go, an app that has developed the scheme in partnership with a number of food producers.

Companies including Carlsberg, Unilever, Løgismose Meyers, Arla, Coop, Thise, Toms and Urtekram are among those who have agreed to try the new labelling.

Selina Juul, founder of NGO Stop Wasting Food, said that current labelling on foods can confuse consumers.

“Many in Denmark think that ‘best before’ means ‘worst after’ and throw food out to be on the safe side. This scheme contributes to better knowledge about food products and thereby reduces food waste,” Juul said in a press statement released by Too Good To Go.

Another phrase, ‘use by’ (‘sidste anvendelsesdato’), is used on products where consumption after that date would constitute a health risk, while ‘best before’ (‘bedst før’) is advisory and used with products which do not constitute a health risk after their sell-by dates, but must be assessed before use.

Danish dairy giant Arla has begun to use the new labelling on its Arla 24-mælk product, and plans to extend it to other products.

“It is very clear that, for large families, this might not mean so much, because many litres of milk are drunk every day,” Arla Denmark CEO Jakob Knudsen said.

“But for small households, this is important information to have, because milk might be left in the refrigerator for several days. And it has a longer lifetime than the ‘best before’ which is written on it,” Knudsen said.

The Danish Agriculture & Food Council also said it supported the project.

“This addition is likely to help many of the consumers who are not aware that ‘best before’ is not the same as ‘use by’. And therefore throw out food which has reached its ‘best before’ date,” area director Klaus Jørgensen said in a written statement.

“But our support is conditional upon this being done in close coordination with businesses and on a voluntary basis,” Jørgensen added.

Source: The Local


Read also:

‘Best before, often good after’: Unilever adopts anti-food waste labels on food packaging . . . . .

‘No Nitrates Added’ Labels Are Often Misleading

Allison Aubrey wrote . . . . . . . . .

Packing a turkey sandwich in your kid’s lunchbox, or serving up bacon or hot dogs?

When shopping for processed meats, many health-conscious consumers look for products with words like “no nitrates added” or “uncured” on the packaging. But we may have been misled, experts say.

A new report finds that deli meats with those labels actually contain similar levels of nitrates as meats that don’t carry these labels.

Part of the explanation lies in federal labeling rules for processed meats. When hot dog or bacon manufacturers use natural curing agents, such as celery powder, in lieu of synthetic sodium nitrite, they can be required to use terms such as “no nitrates added” and “uncured.” In other cases, food manufacturers may add these claims voluntarily, perhaps for marketing reasons.

The “labels could make people think these meats are healthier,” says Charlotte Vallaeys, senior policy analyst at Consumer Reports. “But our tests show they are not.”

Consumer Reports tested 31 deli meat products including roast beef, salami, turkey and ham. The products included both name brands and store brands.

“Deli meats carrying these labels pose the same health risks as traditionally cured meats, because the nitrate and nitrite levels are essentially the same,” Vallaeys says.

Consumer Reports and the Center for Science in the Public Interest submitted a petition Thursday to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, urging the agency to revise its labeling rules.

“These claims are absolutely misleading for consumers,” says Sarah Sorscher of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

“The label says the product has no nitrite or nitrate added,” Sorscher says. But the reality is that “they’ve simply switched to a different source.”

The USDA told NPR that the agency will review the petition and make a decision based upon its analysis.

“There is little evidence that preserving meats using celery … is any healthier than other added nitrites,” says Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

A body of evidence suggests that processed meats are linked to elevated cancer risk. Experts think part of the problem is the nitrites used to cure them. “All nitrites can be converted in the food, during cooking, or in the body to nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic,” Mozaffarian explains.

Source: npr