New USDA Packaging Guidelines

2018 was to bring new regulatory packaging rules from the FDA. The new, easier-to-read nutrition labels were to be seen in supermarkets across the country this summer. However, the Food and Drug Administration has pushed that back until 2020.  Shortly after the news broke, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) announced a new proposed rule that will force certain manufacturers to advertise when products contain genetically modified ingredients. Griffin Rutgers takes a look at the new USDA packaging guidelines.

The FDA extended the compliance dates for the Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts label final rule and the Serving Size final rule, from July 26, USDA Packaging2018 to January 1, 2020, for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales. Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales would receive an extra year to comply – until January 1, 2021.

Under the new ruling, products made with genetically-modified sugars and oils, and also those foods that contain GMOs in smaller amounts would be set by a pre-prescribed threshold. It’s also possible that the label will term the ingredients ‘bioengineered’ to avoid bad connotations with the phrase ‘genetically modified’.

As a food manufacturer, you’ll have three different options on how to communicate to consumers that the product they are buying contain GMO-infused ingredients. It could be as a one-line on your packaging that reads: ‘contains bioengineered food ingredient’, a standard graphic, or you could also use a QR code that directs the consumer to a website for more information.

Some interested parties, like the group Grocery Manufacturers Association praised the USDA for allowing the use of QR coding; others think this method could be deceitful to the consumer since not all shoppers use, or want to use, their smartphones to make split second decisions at the store. Many could choose to either overlook it, or not make a purchase because the information is not readily available.

No matter which way you choose to label your products; at Griffin Rutgers we can help with the design and set up to ensure your labeling system is meeting the new USDA packaging guidelines.

The USDA is leaving themselves some wiggle room. The agency is seeking comment on whether it should exempt highly processed foods, such as high-fructose corn syrup, which, according to the agency, may have lost it’s GMO/bioengineered content.

The label icon itself is open for debate, as the USDA is proposing a seal that says ‘BE’ (bio-engineered) for any food product that fits the definition. The USDA is looking for feedback as to what that seal should be.

The USDA proposal is open to public comment and unlike the new Nutrition Facts label proposed by the FDA, you could see the USDA packaging guidelines finalized as early as this summer.

To discuss your particular needs contact Griffin-Rutgers and let us put our 50 years of experience in providing printing, coding and labeling solutions for packaging to work for you.

Posted in Food & Beverage, Food Labeling and tagged , .