Food Law News - UK - 2000

FSA Press Release, 14 November 2000

GM FOOD - No Health Risk from Unauthorised GM Ingredients in Tortilla Chips - Investigation Continues

The Food Standards Agency announced today that the levels of GM contamination alleged by Friends of the Earth to be present in tortilla chips are far too low to pose a danger to human health. The FSA made its announcement after receiving advice from its independent advisory committee, the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP).

The Food Standards Agency started its investigation after receiving details from Friends of the Earth regarding the analyses commissioned by them concerning the presence of unauthorised GM ingredients. The Agency has been in contact with the laboratory in Germany that carried out the work. The information received raises a number of questions over the robustness of the analysis, particularly in respect of the control samples used. What is clear is that if GM material is present the levels are so low that the laboratory has been unable to quantify them.

Food retailers and their suppliers have informed the Agency they have had identity preserved systems in place for over two years along the entire supply chain and routine analysis for the presence of GM ingredients has shown nothing to be present at a level of 0.1%. They have commissioned independent analysis of the tortilla chips to see whether the results obtained by the German laboratory can be confirmed. The results from this will be provided to the Agency and made publicly available as soon as they are obtained. This is expected to be within the next week.

The Agency has also discussed the situation with the local authority in whose area the tortilla chip manufacturer is situated. This authority routinely carries out tests for GM ingredients and has not detected their presence at a level below 0.1% in samples of tortilla chips.

The Agency is planning to hold an open meeting to debate the issues that arise from the presence of very low levels of GM materials and investigating what further action may be necessary at EU level.

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