The Regulations will require all of the UK's 500,000 catering premises to show which dishes on their menus contain GM soya or maize, or indicate that some dishes contain GM soya or maize and ensure that staff are able to inform customers of which dishes are affected when asked.
Commenting on the new regulations today, Food Minister Baroness Hayman said: "The Government is committed to ensuring that consumers are able to make an informed choice about the food they eat. That is why we have led the way in Europe by extending the labelling regulations to restaurants, pubs and other catering premises. These labelling requirements have applied in retail premises since September 1998 and the new regulations will ensure that consumers are entitled to the same information when eating out as they expect when buying their own food in shops. We consulted fully on these regulations and gave the catering industry six months notice of this legislation coming into effect. Restaurateurs and caterers will be required to meet the requirements of the Regulations or face fines up to £5,000 for non-compliance. We remain determined to ensure that GM labelling regulations are as effective as possible. We are pressing for additional European legislation to require the labelling of GM additives and flavourings and we will continue to review the effectiveness of GM labelling rules and take steps to make changes where necessary."
The EC Regulation 1139/98, containing detailed rules on labelling of GM soya and maize, came into force on 1 September 1998. The Food Labelling (Amendment) Regulations 1999 provide for the enforcement of the EC Regulation, and penalties for non-compliance. This legislation applies to Monsanto's GM soya and Novartis' GM maize, which were previously approved under EC Directive 90/220 concerning the deliberate release of GMOs into the environment. Any new GM foods would need approval under the EC Novel Foods Regulation 258/97, which include labelling requirements. The previous Minister of State, Jeff Rooker, issued statements about GM foods on 19 March (News Release 99/99) announcing that GM labelling requirements would extend to catering premises in September, 2 March (News Release 74/99) responding to the Which? report on GM foods, and on 17 February (News Release 55/99) reiterating the Government's commitment to ensuring the safety of food and consumer choice. The proposal to extend labelling requirements to catering establishments was announced on 29 July 1998 (News Release 315/98).