Following commencement of the genetically modified (GM) food labelling requirements of Standard 1.5.2, of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code , (in December 2001) a small preliminary examination in the form of an Australian pilot survey of corn and soy derived food products was undertaken to ascertain:
- how food businesses are adapting to the need to comply with the GM food labelling provisions of Standard 1.5.2, which require food products which are GM or contain GM ingredients to be labelled, and the consequential need to determine the GM status of ingredients used in their products; and
- the usefulness of document surveys to regulatory authorities in determining compliance or non-compliance with the mandatory GM food labelling requirements, as an alternative to undertaking expensive testing.
The survey tested a representative range of soy and corn derived food products (soy milk, bread, cornflakes, corn chips and tacos) for the presence of novel DNA. Because of international trade and the commercial cultivation of GM crops overseas these products have the potential for the inclusion of GM ingredients. The manufacturers, importers or retailers (supermarkets with generic products) of selected products were also asked to present evidence on how they determined the GM status of their food products.
All 51 samples tested complied with the GM food labelling requirements of Standard 1.5.2. GM material within the 1% limit of the labelling exemption for unintentional presence of an approved GM food in a non-GM food was detected in 10 samples (5 soymilk, 3 taco and 2 corn chip samples. Starlink corn was not detected in any of the corn products tested.
Four of the five soy milk samples in which GM material was detected had voluntary negative label claims about the GM status of ingredients. The manufacturers of these samples had implemented management systems to determine the GM status of the ingredients used in their food products. The remaining 6 samples in which GM material was detected did not have voluntary negative label claims. The samples were produced by 4 manufacturers, 3 of which were document surveyed. Two (which produced 4 of the samples) had implemented management systems to determine the GM status of the ingredients used in their food products.
In general the large food businesses document surveyed had management systems (documentation or testing) in place to demonstrate the GM status of ingredients used in their products. In contrast, the smaller food businesses document surveyed were unable to provide evidence that their products did not contain GM ingredients because they had not implemented management systems. However, this did not result in non-compliance with the mandatory GM food labelling requirements.
Download: Australian Pilot Survey of GM Food Labelling of Corn and Soy Food Products (pdf 455 kb) | (word 491 kb)