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GM labelling compliance high

19 August 2003
GM labelling compliance high

New Zealand food manufacturers and importers are complying with labelling requirements for genetically modified foods, the New Zealand Food Safety Authority says.

“An 18 month audit of manufacturers and importers has revealed that there is a high level of familiarity and compliance with the GM labelling standard and that there is no genetically modified food or ingredient in New Zealand that is not allowed to be here,” NZFSA’s Compliance and Investigation Director Geoff Allen said.

As well as the audits, more than 100 foods from retail outlets were tested for the presence of GM ingredients and all but one complied with the GM labelling requirements.

Standard 1.5.2 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code requires that foods containing approved genetically modified ingredients be adequately labelled. All genetically modified foods or ingredients have to pass a safety check and be approved before being permitted for use in New Zealand.

The compliance project, which was a recommendation from the Report of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification, began in April 2002 under the auspices of the Ministry of Health. It was taken over by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority on 1 July 2002. The project involved the auditing of food manufacturers and importers and the testing of foods like soy milk products, corn chips, tortillas, tofu and other vegetarian meat products based on soy, that could have contained genetically modified ingredients. The testing of foods was done by the Environmental Science and Research Institute (ESR).

“In the year June 2002 to June 2003, we audited 269 food manufacturers and importers. The audit was to determine whether importers and manufacturers had enough documentation from their suppliers on the GM status of their ingredients and foods to make an adequate assessment of the status of their foods,” Mr Allen said.

“The audits showed that 71 percent of manufacturers and 63 percent of importers had enough documentation to demonstrate they had made an adequate assessment of the status of their foods. That doesn’t mean the rest had GM ingredients in their products, it just means they didn’t have adequate systems in place to prove otherwise. In fact only 6 percent of manufacturers had done nothing. Most manufacturers had taken at least some steps to check the GM status of their products,” Mr Allen said.

“This is a good start. It shows that where genetically modified foods are concerned, most manufacturers and importers are taking their responsibilities seriously to ensure their customers have the information they need to make informed choices about their products. We will continue to monitor the situation,” Mr Allen said.
Ends

The report is available on www.nzfsa.govt.nz under labelling and composition.

ENDS

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