USDA Adopts Digimarc for Food Packaging Disclosures

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USDA Adopts Digimarc for Food Packaging Disclosures


Digimarc Corp.'s barcode has been adopted by the USDA as an approved digital disclosure method for products and packaging containing bioengineered food, commonly referred to as "GMOs."

The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard was published last month after a review and comment period lasting more than two years. The regulations include provisions for label disclosure of food products containing genetically modified organisms, which will go into effect on Feb. 19.

The new regulation requires food manufacturers, importers and other entities that label foods for retail sale to disclose information about bioengineered content. One mechanism for disclosure stated in the rules is packaging that contains "digital watermark technology that is imperceptible to consumers but can be scanned anywhere on a food package using a smartphone or other device."

Digimarc worked closely with the USDA to demonstrate how digital watermarking technology provides a flexible and scalable approach to handling not only the current requirements, but also additional industry initiatives and potential future regulations fostering product transparency.

"We are pleased digital watermarking has been included in the final regulations as a means to give manufacturers, retailers, and consumers more flexibility and choice in digitally linking to information about bioengineered content," said Mark Baum, senior vice president of industry relations and chief collaboration officer at the Food Marketing Institute. "Digital watermarking offers companies a convenient and reliable technology for communicating disclosures to consumers, along with providing additional enterprise benefits across food manufacturing and retailing."

The Digimarc barcode is also an approved method of linking to SmartLabel product transparency content.  

"Implementation of the bioengineered food disclosure rules using digital watermarking technology is a major step forward for product transparency," said Bruce Davis, Digimarc's chief executive officer. "Intelligent package labeling ... provides consumers with an easy and reliable way to get more product information using their phones. It also provides many additional business benefits for brands and retailers, including supply chain efficiencies and convenient checkout options, all without disrupting packaging aesthetics."

Digimarc has invested heavily to create an extensive ecosystem of partners for implementation ranging from device manufacturers to premedia agencies and printers. The company also offers design and other consulting services to help companies integrate barcodes into existing and new package designs.