FSA fails to alert public to banned GM ingredient

| 6th November 2009
Only the food industry was told about the presence of unauthorised GM linseed
Campaign group finds traces of unauthorised GM linseed in loaf of Marks & Spencer bread and calls on Government food watchdog to issue public alert

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has defended itself after failing to alert consumers to the presence of unapproved genetically modified food in UK supermarkets.

Small amounts of GM linseed were found at the end of September this year in batches of unidentified produce from Canada.

The FSA alerted the food industry to the contamination and advised processors test any batches of linseed for genetically modified material to ensure produce was not affected.

However, the Agency decided against alerting the general public to the issue.

‘As with any incident, we did a risk assessment and did not judge there to be a health risk to consumers,’ said an FSA spokesperson.

‘Consumption of small amounts of this GM linseed does not present a health risk. However, the product has not been licensed for sale as required under European law so should not be present in any foods.

‘Where unauthorised GM material is found, the Agency works with importers and local authorities to identify where the affected product has been distributed and to remove it from sale,’ said the FSA spokesperson.

Marks & Spencer

GM Freeze claim to have found traces of GM linseed in a loaf of bread they bought from a Marks & Spencer store after the FSA issued its industry alert. They had sent a sample to be analysed by Genetic ID’s laboratory in Augsburg, Germany.

They criticised the FSA for failing to alert the public that they could be purchasing GM produce unauthorised for sale in Europe.

‘Once again the body which is supposed to be the consumer’s watchdog has failed when it comes to a GM contamination incident,’ said GM Freeze campaigner Eve Mitchell.

‘It’s time Parliament stepped in to ensure UK food is safe. For all we know this GM contamination has been in our food for years without any safety testing’

Useful links

GM Freeze
Food Standards Agency (FSA)

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