BIOENGINEERED (BE) FAQs

You have chosen an Abbott product that includes bioengineered
(be) ingredient(s)

In December 2018, the USDA released the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, a new regulation that applies to foods which contain genetically modified material. This means that foods once called GMO are now defined as BE for “bioengineered.” This new regulation requires food manufacturers like Abbott to ensure bioengineered foods include appropriate disclosures.

We value your trust in nutrition products from Abbott and hope the below information on the BE disclosure will help you make an informed and confident purchase decision.

You can also call us toll-free at 1-866-938-9730 with any questions not answered here.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has launched an education initiative to share information related to BE which can be found here: https://www.fda.gov/food/consumers/agricultural-biotechnology.

What is USDA’s new definition of bioengineered (BE)?

While humans have been changing the genes of plants and animals since the dawn of modern agriculture, the term genetically modified organism (GMO) refers to any organism whose genetic material has been altered using more modern genetic modification techniques. The USDA defines bioengineered food as a food which contains this detectable genetic material that has been modified.

Genetic modification, or bioengineering, uses scientific methods to make changes to the genes of plants or animals. It is done to help improve production; strengthen them against damage from pests and drought; and increase nutritional value.

Are BE foods safe?

Yes. As a science-based company, Abbott offers nutrition products that are based on the latest science to nourish people at every stage of life. The most respected food safety organizations around the world including the US FDA and the European Food Safety Authority have determined that a wide variety of BE foods over the last 50 years are safe, and there is consensus among organizations including the American Medical Association and the National Academy of Sciences that BE foods are safe. So, you can continue to purchase Abbott products containing BE ingredients with confidence.

“All BE foods are thoroughly evaluated for safety before they become part of our diets to ensure that they are as safe as the foods we currently eat. The most respected food safety organizations around the world including the US FDA and the European Food Safety Authority have determined that a wide variety of BE foods are safe over the last 50 years…”

Paul Hanlon, PhD, DABT
Director of Regulatory Affairs, nutrition division at Abbott;
PhD in Molecular and Environmental Toxicology;
Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology (DABT)

What about non-GMO products?

We know non-GMO foods may be preferred by some consumers, so Abbott continues to offer products which are non-GMO as well. Additionally, our certified organic products are by definition non-GMO. Therefore, all Abbott products that are “non-GMO” and/or “organic” will still be labeled as such.

Why don’t we make every product non-GMO?

The FDA has confirmed that BE foods are as safe as non-GMO foods. We know there is a growing demand for non-GMO food options, which is why Abbott offers products that are labeled non-GMO. Abbott's non-GMO products have many of the same ingredients as our products labeled BE, but the ingredients are sourced to be non-GMO.

“Some of the agricultural sources of ingredients used by Abbott are sourced from US farmers – the majority of whom are growing BE varieties of these crops. Using BE ingredients is one way that Abbott supports farmers here in America.”

Paul Hanlon, PhD, DABT
Director of Regulatory Affairs, nutrition division at Abbott;
PhD in Molecular and Environmental Toxicology;
Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology (DABT)

Why do I see products with the BE disclosure and
others that don’t have it?

The new BE disclosure is required on all applicable foods produced starting January 1, 2022. This means consumers will see product labels continually updated to include the BE disclosure as the old labels are phased out. Therefore, the BE designation you see on your favorite Abbott nutrition product may or may not look the same as those on other food products you see on the shelf.

How will the BE disclosure appear?

The USDA is giving manufacturers four options for disclosure, so you may see a mix of the following options in grocery stores starting on or before the January 1, 2022 compliance date:

  1. BE symbol

  2. On-package written statement: “Bioengineered food” or “Contains a bioengineered food ingredient”

  3. An electronic or digital link (QR code) which scans to the product BE information as well as a phone number to call as an alternative

  4. A text message command which will provide the product BE information

For more details on labeling guidelines and BE disclosure details, see https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/be/consumers.

Why is there a QR code and multiple phone numbers
on your labels?

We are utilizing the USDA-approved QR code option to disclose BE information. You can either scan the QR code from your smart phone or call the phone number associated with the QR code to get this information as well as ask additional product questions. Some of Abbott’s products also include a general consumer information phone number for questions not related to BE.

Is there someone I can talk to for more details on the
BE disclosure?

If you have more questions concerning the BE disclosure or about any Abbott product, please call us toll-free at 1-866-938-9730.

You can also visit the USDA BE Disclosure website at https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/be.