Food and Drink International - Winter 2016 Volume 1 - 24

r

RETAIL

Food Labeling

>> "Natural" can be found in 20 percent more menu item names and consumers associate the term with trustworthiness and health.

the use of organic standards in any
definition of natural.

Regulatory Authority
Meanwhile, on the other side of town,
the USDA has been charged with
providing detailed content to fill-out
federal law establishing the "National
Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard." Giving the USDA the lead is
important for at least three reasons.
First, it increases the USDA's regulatory authority over labeling in all
foods, not just meat and poultry. Second, the USDA's mission - unlike the
FDA's - explicitly includes promoting
innovation and production in American agriculture (the FDA's food-related mission is to protect "the public
health by assuring the safety, efficacy
and security" of the food supply). On
this and other bases, the USDA can
be said to be more "industry friendly"
than the FDA.

24

Third, the USDA drew a raft of
comment earlier this year when it determined that CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic
repeats) technology did not constitute "genetic engineering" within the
meaning of the law.
CRISPR works by allowing scientists to edit DNA strands with great
precision, speed and cost-efficiency.
But because CRISPR technology can
alter an organism's existing DNA
simply by removing specific genes or
gene groups - as opposed to introducing new genes or groups to produce
new genetic combinations (i.e., recombinant DNA techniques) - CRISPR does not constitute "genetic engineering" under the USDA's definition.
That is the approach to defining
genetic engineering now enshrined
in federal law, for consumer labeling
purposes, as of the date President
Obama signed the National Bioen-

food & drink international * winter 2016 volume 1 * www.fooddrink-magazine.com

gineered Food Disclosure Standard.
Consequently, practically speaking,
consumers may soon eat without disclosure an enormous variety of foods
containing ingredients, which have
been genetically "manipulated" using CRISPR. The USDA earlier this
year approved two examples of such
foods - browning-resistant mushrooms and a new variety of corn -
for marketing.
We continue to see two currents of
policy thinking striving against each
other as we move toward the conclusion of 2016. One bound-up with notions of scientific uncertainty, transparency and a "populist" approach to
labeling, seeks to benefit consumers
by reigning in the use of murky terms
("natural") and defining broadly other terms ("genetic engineering"),
which provoke consumer anxiety.
The other is concerned with preserving the ability of modern food
manufacturers to continue delivering
vast quantities of safe and aesthetically pleasing foods to consumers'
tables and maintaining competitiveness in the biotech space. The policy wants more latitude to describe
foods using consumer-attracting
terms ("natural") and greater freedom from disclosing potentially consumer-alarming information ("genetically engineered").
Jason Sapsin is an attorney in Faegre Baker Daniels' food regulatory
and litigation practice, health care
and FDA practice, and national food
and agriculture industry team. As a
former associate chief counsel to the
U.S. Food & Drug Administration,
he brings direct insight into FDA's
regulatory and investigation processes, which benefits clients introducing
and defending food and life sciences
products in the marketplace. Sapsin
can be reached at jason.sapsin@
FaegreBD.com.


http://www.fooddrink-magazine.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Food and Drink International - Winter 2016 Volume 1

Contents
Food and Drink International - Winter 2016 Volume 1 - Cover1
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