Food Law News - UK - 2003

FSA News Item, 6 November 2003

GM FOOD / LABELLING - Date set for new GM food regulation

From April 2004 new rules on labelling genetically modified food will come into effect throughout the European Union.

Under the new European Commission regulation on GM food and feed, all ingredients that contain or consist of genetically modified organisms, or contain ingredients produced from GMOs, will need to be labelled as such.

A threshold of 0.9% will apply for the accidental presence of GM material, below which labelling of food or feed is not required. There will also be a 0.5% threshold for the presence of GM material that has not been approved for use in Europe, provided it has a favourable safety assessment from the European Union scientific committees. This latter threshold will apply for three years.

The regulations will not apply to food produced using GM processing aids, such as some cheeses, or products from animals fed GM animal feed.

Risk assessment of GM foods will be centralised through the European Food Safety Authority. Authorisation, if granted, will be for 10 years, after which companies will have to apply for it to be renewed.

The second of the European Commission's two GM regulations, on traceability and labelling, was also adopted and published at the same time. This regulation will provide a harmonised EU system on the documentation needed to trace GM products throughout the supply chain. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is the lead department on this regulation.

The FSA and Defra will issue a joint consultation on the draft domestic legislation to implement these regulations, draft guidance to accompany the regulations and a draft Regulatory Impact Assessment at the end of 2003.

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