The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has adopted Digimarc Barcode as an approved digital disclosure method for packaging containing bioengineered food, commonly known as genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Digimarc Barcode is a new-generation visually imperceptible barcode, which can be added to product packaging, retail labels and hangtags, Point-of-Purchase (POP) displays and print material.

It can be scanned by compatible consumer phones, retail barcode scanners and computer vision systems.

It also eliminates the need to add a QR code to the product package design and fulfil new federal regulations.

SmartLabel mobile consumer app offers detailed information about the product and detects Digimarc Barcode.

The approval will enable the manufacturers, retailers and brands to use Digimarc Barcode to meet their voluntary SmartLabel programme participation and mandatory bioengineered disclosures.

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USDA approval comes at a time when the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard regulations, which was published last month, is set to become effective from 19 February.

The new standard requires food manufacturers, importers and other associated entities to disclose information about bioengineered content.

A mechanism for disclosure mentioned 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.”

“Implementation of the bioengineered food disclosure rules using digital watermarking technology is a major step forward for product transparency.”

Digimarc worked with the USDA to demonstrate the effectiveness of digital watermarking technology to handle the current requirements in the standard and potential future regulations pertaining to improve product transparency.

Digimarc CEO Bruce Davis said: “Implementation of the bioengineered food disclosure rules using digital watermarking technology is a major step forward for product transparency.

“Intelligent package labelling that incorporates Digimarc Barcode 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.”