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USDA Reports Grocers Lagging Behind In QR-Code Labels

Whether or not the food you buy is genetically modified is still not clear, even after a mandatory labeling law was passed last year.

Foods that are genetically modified are required by federal law to be labeled. Passed in 2016, the law requires manufacturers to label on-package with a USDA symbol or an electronic QR code. Now, a follow-up study by the USDA says implementation of these laws is lacking, particularly with the QR-codes.

Julie Murphree, with the Arizona Farm Bureau, said she is not surprised.

“Consumers are not quite getting the information they need as easily as they need it. And I’m so not surprised about that because this is all new and the bill itself, to me, is complicated,” Murphree said. “If improved consumer education is needed to let people know that a QR code or some kind or scannable label is there, then the grocery store that can do that ... that’s a competitive differentiator that I think will be very valuable in that market.”

Murphree said the law is designed to help consumers understand what products contain GMOs. She also said grocers that get that and get out ahead and label with QR codes or some kind of scannable label may have a competitive advantage against other stores in the same market area. 

Heather van Blokland was a host at KJZZ from 2016 to 2021.