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New GM labelling rules introduced
Foods and food ingredients using additives and flavourings which contain GM additives and flavourings should now be labelled. Additionally, businesses selling to food catering suppliers have to label all products containing GM soya and maize. The domestic Regulations on the labelling of GM foods, which came into force in England and Scotland on the 10 April, provide for the enforcement of new EC rules in this area for imported and domestic foods. Similar domestic regulations will also be made in Wales and Northern Ireland.
Welcoming the new regulations Sir John Krebs, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said:
"I said at the Agency's launch last week that we want to support consumer choice. I therefore very much welcome these new requirements which will further improve the ability of consumers to make informed choices. However, there is still much to be done before the Agency will be satisfied that the labelling rules in this area are complete. That is why we are pressing the European Commission to bring forward further proposals on 'GM free' claims. The Agency will be looking at the way that the current GM labelling rules are functioning as part of its work on the Better Labelling Initiative. We want to make sure that food labels carry the right information in a clear and easily readable format."
EC Regulation 49/2000 came into force on 10 April 2000. The Regulation amends EC Regulation 1139/98 (on the labelling of foods containing GM soya and maize) to widen the scope of the labelling requirements to include foods sold to catering establishments, and to establish a 1 per cent de minimis threshold for the adventitious contamination of non-GM produce, below which it will not require labelling.
EC Regulation 50/2000 also came into force on 10 April 2000. The Regulation requires the labelling of foods and food ingredients using additives and flavourings which contain GM material. EC Regulation 1139/98 (OJ L159 3.6.1998 p.4), requiring the labelling of foods containing GM soya or maize came into force on 1 September 1998. Enforcement of this Regulation was provided by way of the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 (as amended; in particular by the Food Labelling (Amendment) Regulations 1999).
The Genetically Modified and Novel Food (Labelling) (England) Regulations 2000 (SI 768) draw together all the current domestic rules on GM food labelling in England. The Regulations provide for the enforcement in England of existing rules (EC Regulation 1139/98 and Article 8(1) of the EC Novel Foods Regulation); as well as providing for the enforcement in England of EC Regulations 49 and 50/2000. The domestic Regulations also provide flexible labelling arrangements for appropriate businesses, and penalties for non-compliance. In Scotland, The Genetically Modified and Novel and Novel Foods (Labelling) (Scotland) Regulations 2000 (SSI 2000/83) apply.