Tester peels off food industry’s new SmartLabel

Senators raises concerns about consumers’ access to food information

(BIG SANDY, Mont.) – As several major food and beverage companies move forward with a new labeling initiative, Montana farmer and Senator Jon Tester wants to make sure all consumers can easily access critical information about the food they buy.

Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) recently launched SmartLabel, which would require consumers to use their own smartphones to scan a bar code to obtain critical information about the food they purchase. Consumers would be forced to look online rather than on the packaging to find out whether a product contains genetically modified (GMO) ingredients.

Tester, along with a handful of other Senators, wrote a letter to GMA raising concerns that SmartLabel’s format will limit many consumers’ access to information about their food.

“While we recognize that the companies committed to this initiative are taking a step towards supplying consumers with the information that they deserve to have access to, we are troubled that this initiative may have significant anti-consumer loopholes,” Tester wrote. “Consumers have a right to clear, truthful and concise food labels regarding key information about the food products they are purchasing.”

According to Pew Research Center, roughly one-third of American adults do not own a smartphone, which prevents them from using SmartLabel.

The Senators also highlighted concerns that food manufacturers could collect personal information about consumers when they use their smartphones to scan labels.

Tester has led the charge for years to require food manufacturers to label whether their products contain GMOs. Last month, he took to the Senate floor and successfully convinced his colleagues to prevent language from being added to the appropriations bill that would have undermined consumers’ right to know whether their food contains GMOs.

Tester’s letter is available online HERE.