Well, more on the menu
really as new regulations make it obligatory to clearly declare all genetically modified
ingredients to customers. In the wake of the recent GM food controversy, the government
has introduced new measures which impose more stringent conditions on food labelling.
Designed to provide consumers with a greater ability to choose whether or not to purchase
products containing genetically modified ingredients, the new measure will inevitably lead
to increased costs for the owners of food businesses which must comply with them – with
the possibility of large fines for those who fail to do so.
The new regulations, which amend the Food
Regulations 1996, will undoubtedly increase the pressure on those who sell food to ensure
that it is labelled accurately. The regulations came into force just last month and have
immediate application to shops and supermarkets. From 19th September the regulations will
also apply to catering establishments from the most exclusive of restaurants to the
humblest of fairground food purveyor.
The regulations apply only to products
which contain genetically modified soya and maize (around 98 per cent of all processed
foods!). Supermarkets and shops must now ensure that all foods are labelled to indicate
the fact that they contain GMOs. It is no longer sufficient to include the vague
description ‘May contain genetically modified products’.
Given that the multiples gave up any
interest in running their own food manufacturing facilities some years ago, this means
that food manufacturers (both brand and own label) will shoulder the responsibility for
ensuring that product content and labelling meet the requirements of the new regulations.
Furthermore, as a number of new highly specific and sensitive testing systems have only
just become available, both the supermarkets and the appropriate authorities have the
technical ability to evaluate all food products for compliance.
According to Peter Riddleston of solicitors
Morgan Cole: “Restaurant owners will need to ensure that they are aware of the exact
contents of dishes on their menus which may contain genetically modified products. While
it will not be necessary for restaurant owners to list the genetically modified
ingredients for each dish, it will be necessary to display notices in appropriate places
on premises stating whether any of the dishes offered for sale contain GMOs.
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“Customers will be entitled to ask
staff to clarify whether food on sale is produced using genetically modified products.
Owners of catering establishments will need to introduce procedures in to their working
practices to ensure that staff are provided with information concerning the contents of
dishes containing genetically modified soya or maize.
“Environmental health officers will be
responsible for ensuring compliance with the regulations. The cost of failure to comply
could have serious impact on many businesses, with the possibility that fines of up to
£5,000 could be imposed.”
The new regulations have been criticised by
environmental pressure groups on the basis that they will be difficult to enforce and
represent an attempt by the government to disguise the fact that it has nor firm policy on
genetically modified food.
Although ensuring that food is labelled in
compliance with the regulations will increase costs for food businesses, accurate
labelling of foods which contain GMOs will enable consumers to make better informed
decisions with regard to the purchase of foods containing genetically modified
Details of reports from Food Industry News Click Here