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FSIS publishes updated guidelines for the use of “Non-GMO” claims

On December 30, 2019, FSIS provided the updated version of the label guideline for establishments that intend to label their products as free of genetically modified (GM) ingredients. FSIS released the update with regards to comments provided for the original guidance.

The update clarifies that FSIS approves negative claims verified under a third-party certifying organization the same way it approves other special statements or claims and will not limit claims to those consistent with AMS’s definition of bioengineering.

Additionally, FSIS added information about the certification and labeling for certified organic products. Specifically, certified organic products may be labeled with negative claims without additional third-party certification or documentation when the negative claim is connected with an asterisk or other symbol to the explanatory statement “Produced in compliance with the USDA Organic Regulations” and that the website of the certifying entity does not always need to appear on the label.


FSIS originally released the guideline in August 2016.


The guideline explains that labels with “negative claims” must be reviewed by FSIS. Negative claims are for example ‘not bioengineered’, ‘non-GMO’, or any other similar claim describing the absence of bioengineering in the food. Documents needed to substantiate a claim are a current copy of the 3rd party certificate and a written description for the identification, control, and segregation of conforming and non-conforming animals or products, except when these activities are a condition of certification.


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