We welcome our readership back with a wrap-up of recent news items of interest:

  • Vermont authorizes independent organizations to provide “non-GM” verification
    • In anticipation of the upcoming July 1, 2016 effective date for Vermont’s GM labeling requirements, the state Attorney General has authorized two independent organizations to provide verification that food has not been knowingly or intentionally produced from or commingled with food or seed produced with genetic engineering.  The two qualified organizations are The Non GMO Project and NSF International’s Non-GMO True North Standard.  Food companies voluntarily may seek certifications from these entities to take advantage of a labeling exemption available for “food that has been verified as not having been produced with genetic engineering by an organization that the Attorney General has authorized to make such verification.”  This is not the only exemption available to food producers, but it provides one clear “out” for suppliers and processors willing to participate in third-party verification programs.  Although many industry stakeholders had hoped for a federal legislative “fix” to stop implementation of the Vermont GM labeling requirements, the timing of Congressional action (if any) in this area is uncertain.
  • FDA creates Office of Dietary Supplement Programs (ODSP)
    • FDA announced the creation of the Office of Dietary Supplement Programs (ODSP), elevating the program from its previous position as a division under the Office of Nutrition Labeling and Dietary Supplements.  Bob Durkin is serving as Acting Office Director while the Agency identifies permanent leadership for the new Office.   Reflecting the reorganization, ODSP’s former parent office will now be called the “Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling.”
  • Just Mayo can keep its name
    • After a legal challenge, an FDA Warning Letter, and months of controversy, FDA is permitting the brand, “Just Mayo” to keep its name and its logo, provided that the Company makes some labeling changes (e.g., increasing the size of the “egg-free” qualifier and prominently defining the word “just” to clarify that the product is not an exact replica of mayonnaise).  At issue was the fact that the name, “Just Mayo” represented products as standardized mayonnaise even though they did not meet the applicable standard identity.  The resolution of this particular case opens the door to future tests of FDA’s flexibility regarding the use of standardized product names as part of a company’s brand strategy.