Supermarket chain Iceland today announces that it has reached its target to feed all of its livestock for primary (non-processed) meat production on a non-GM diet (effective September 31).

The pioneering food retailer was the first in the world to remove genetically modified ingredients from its own product range in May 1998. It then became the first to feed all its egg-laying hens and chickens (reared for whole birds and portions) a non-GM diet – all at no extra cost to the consumer.

In February this year, when Iceland announced its target date of September, difficulties with elements of the supply chain led to the company purchasing 10,000 tonnes of non-GM soya meal to help its suppliers. The non-GM soya meal was sold instantly and since then suppliers have been working closely with Iceland to meet the target.

Iceland’s policy now guarantees that egg-laying hens and chickens will be reared on a non-GM diet throughout their whole lifespan. The company aims that livestock reared for pork, lamb and beef will also be non-GM fed from weaning. However, due to the lifespans involved (up to 30 months for cattle), Iceland currently guarantees a non-GM diet during the ‘finishing phase’. This represents 70 days for beef, 60 days for pork and 45 days for lamb. Ultimately all Iceland meat products will come from animals reared on a non-GM diet for their entire lifetime. Targets dates are 2001 for pork, 2002 for lamb and 2003 for beef.

Bill Wadsworth, technical director for Iceland, says: “We believe animal feed is a major issue because it has a significant impact on our ability to maintain our non-GM ingredient supply. Also, huge quantities of crops are needed to satisfy the market, which means the impact on the environment is potentially greater.”

“We are very pleased that our work with our suppliers now means that our livestock reared for primary meat production will be fed on a non-GM diet. Not only does this mean that Iceland customers will be offered a real choice at no premium, but it will also mean that other food retailers are able to follow suit.”

For further information:

Jeanette Riley/Hilary Berg
Iceland Press Office
Tel: 01244 842941

Editor’s notes:
Primary meat production consists of own label fresh and frozen joints and portions of meat. Further processed meats including minces, dices, ready meals and meat products will form part of the next phase of our non-GM policy.

Non-GM feed used by Iceland suppliers must be traceable to a non-GM source and suppliers must ensure due care is taken during transit and processing to avoid cross contamination with GM material. As part of Iceland’s policy a feed testing regime must be implemented by suppliers with details submitted to Iceland’s technical team. Details of traceability and auditing systems are also required as part of Iceland’s policy.