Healthy shoppers in Northern California are getting the first taste of certified biotech-free meat and egg products at the grocery store, thanks to the valiant efforts of the Non-GMO Project in successfully convincing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to allow certified non-GMO labels to be placed on foods within its regulatory jurisdiction.
According to a recent press release issued by the Non-GMO Project, the USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) has finally agreed to allow third-party certifying organizations like the Non-GMO Project to certify meat and egg products that meet its strict integrity standards, as long as the claims made are truthful, accurate and not misleading.
Most of the food on the market today is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which does not require this type of pre-approval of third-party labels. The USDA, on the other hand, which regulates meat and liquid egg products, has not traditionally held any third-party labeling standards, and had previously denied requests made by meat companies like Mary's Chicken to allow non-GMO labels because of this.
With the help of the Non-GMO Project, however, Mary's Chicken and others in the industry have been able to work with regulators to carefully develop non-GMO labeling standards that are honest, accurate and transparent, three things health-conscious individuals are looking for these days. And with their goal finally achieved, consumers will now be able to identify the highest quality meat and egg products while shopping.
"It was a thoughtful process, that's most certainly the case," says Claire Herminjard, head of pastured beef company Mindful Meats, about working with the USDA on non-GMO labeling standards, as quoted by TakePart.com. "They took their time to do their due diligence to understand how the Non-GMO Project verifies products - what their standards are, how they control that and how they audit it."
Rigorous testing methods ensure Non-GMO Project verified meat, eggs free of transgenic contaminantsHowever, meat and eggs cannot simply be tested on their own for GMO content because the animals that produced them may or may not have been fed GM soy, corn, and other types of transgenic feed. The process is much more complicated, in other words, and in order to properly certify such products, the Non-GMO Project had to establish a more thorough assessment and evaluation process.
"Meat and eggs cannot be tested themselves for GMOs," says Megan Westgate, Executive Director of the Non-GMO Project in a recent statement posted at the organization's website. "That's why we test the animal feed. The supplemental language will help clarify that."