Flavorseal recently added to its list of industry certifications by earning the Non-GMO Project Verified seal for some food packaging within the company’s Seasoning Transfer Technology line.
The seal, representing products verified to contain no genetically modified organisms, complements the certified gluten-free, certified Kosher and certified organic certifications that are available for these products at the customer’s request.
Dr. Gus Eskamani, Corporate Chief Scientist and Compliance Officer, says Flavorseal has considered pursuing the achievement for years. The decision became more pressing last year, when processing customers began requesting non-GMO status on the company’s Seasoning Transfer Technology products at the insistence of their retailer customers.
“More consumers are demanding Non-GMO products and it will continue to be in demand going forward,” Eskamani says. He explains that in response to this trend, increasing numbers of processors are producing non-GMO products. “This means smaller manufacturers as well as the larger ones,” he adds.
What Non-GMO Project Verified Means
The Non-GMO Project Verified seal is awarded through the Non-GMO Project’s Product Verification Program, a third-party verification program for non-GMO food and products. The nonprofit organization says it is the only such verification program in North America. Besides spearheading the Non-GMO Project Verification Program, the organization works to build and protect a Non-GMO food supply by providing marketing support to Non-GMO Project Verified brands and training resources and merchandising materials to retailers.
Growth in demand for the verification appears to be strong: According to the Non-GMO Project, Non-GMO Project Verified is the fastest growing label in the natural products industry, representing over $26 billion in annual sales and more than 50,000 verified products for more than 3,000 brands.
In addition, more and more retailers are pressing their processors to provide more non-GMO products with this seal, Eskamani says. Two examples include Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s stores. Trader Joe’s indicates on its website that its private label products are sourced from non-GMO ingredients. Meanwhile Whole Foods Market says it is committed to GMO transparency and that it offers thousands of products that have met requirements for a USDA Organic or non-GMO-Project-verified label.
The Non-GMO Project Verified seal is similar to the USDA’s Certified Organic certification in that the use of genetically modified organisms is prohibited in organic products. For that certification, farmers and processors have to show they aren’t using GMOs in their process, and may be subject to testing if contamination is suspected. However earning the Project Verified seal requires additional criteria, namely ongoing testing of risk ingredients at critical control points, according to the Non-GMO Project.
Benefits of the Non-GMO Project Verified Seal
Eskamani says earning the project verified status is a clear distinction for manufacturers like Flavorseal. “There are very few companies our size that have the organic certification and even fewer have non-GMO project verified,” he says.
The company pursued the distinction for its Seasoning Transfer Technology products, which Flavorseal manufactures. Eskamani says the certifying organization considered the production process and ingredients used in the adhesive from start to finish.
“The ingredients are sourced from various suppliers, and they had to go through a rigorous analysis by the Non-GMO project at our request,” he says. In addition, he says Flavorseal was required to submit a product composition statement to the Non-GMO Project for evaluation of the ingredients used in Seasoning Transfer Technology products.
Eskamani says one key difference with achieving Project-Verified status compared to USDA Organic is a requirement for increased backward traceability of ingredients, making the seal more difficult to earn. In Flavorseal’s case, he says, it took about four months to complete the processes needed to earn the Non-GMO Project Verified seal.
“We had to prove the ingredients themselves are made by non-GMO technologies and that our process of making the products is non-GMO, so that we are not introducing anything either through the process or through ingredients that contain GMOs.”
Now that Flavorseal has earned this distinction at the request of some processors, Eskamani says, “Several other companies we deal with are excited that we have this certification so they can buy from us,” he says.
“This gives Flavorseal customers another tool to set ourselves apart in the market,” Eskamani adds. “We now have the Non-GMO Project Verified certification on the product and can use that to appeal to customers and stand out from the crowd.”