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Surveillance programme up and running

10 October 2002

Surveillance programme up and running

A surveillance programme that tests food for GM compliance is up and running, the New Zealand Food Safety Authority said today.

The 18 month GM Compliance Project, which arose out of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification recommendations and is part of routine implementation of the GM food labelling standard, has so far tested around 50 products.

Of those products only one has indicated the presence of a GM ingredient.

“A tofu vegetarian sausage tested positive for very low levels of an approved GM ingredient. The test results for that just came through this week,” NZFSA Compliance and Investigation Director Geoff Allen said.

“The level was well below the action threshold of 1 percent returning a test result of less than 0.1 percent. However this product claims to be “GMO free” and we have referred the case to the Commerce Commission for investigation under the Fair Trading Act,” Mr Allen said.

The NZFSA’s responsibility for genetically modified foods is in ensuring they comply with food labelling requirements. Products are initially tested for GM content by ESR in Christchurch. Further independent tests, if necessary, are carried out in Australia to confirm both the quantitative levels of GM content and the identity of that ingredient.

“The project so far has focused on testing soy milk products, corn chips, tortillas, taco shells, tofu and other vegetarian meat products based on soy. Those products have all been correctly labelled,” Mr Allen said.

The compliance project involves testing products as well as auditing importers and manufacturers that may have GM ingredients in their products. Some 300 food premises will be audited to ensure they have systems in place to comply with the GM food standard within the one year project timeframe.

The project is due to be completed by June 2003 at which time the need for further monitoring and surveillance will be reviewed.


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