Understanding Genetically Modified Food Requirements

Genetically modified food has been available worldwide for generations. In the majority of countries, food growers and manufacturers have responsibilities for informing the consumer if the food they produce contains genetically modified organisms. In this post learn what is genetically modified food, laws that regulate its control and how to evidence GM food status during an audit.

What is genetically modified food?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines genetically modified food as being foods produced from or using genetically modified (GM) organisms. To understand this further they have also defined genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as “organisms (i.e. plants, animals or microorganisms) in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination”.

Common GM Foods

According to the FDA, common foods that are known to be derived from genetically modified plants include:

  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Canola
  • Sugar Beets
  • Apples
  • Papaya

The most common reasons for genetic modification are to provide resistance to insect damage and viral infections and to provide tolerance towards certain herbicides.

Regulating genetically modified food

The level of regulation associated with the production and use of genetically modified foods varies from country to country. In some countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the EU, a risk assessment is required to assess the risk to consumer health. There may also be food labelling laws that govern how genetically modified food is advised to the end consumer. To access country regulations on the restrictions of GMOs please check out the “Helpful Links” section at the end of this post.

Audit requirements

The majority of GFSI accredited standards will have a mandatory requirement around having to comply with legislation in both your country of manufacture and any country that you export your product. Standards may also have specific requirements around the declaration and verification of genetically modified food status especially where on label claims have been made.

Evidencing your food GM status

As part of your audit compliance will be required to evidence the status of your genetically modified food or its non-GMO status. Examples of evidence can include finished product specifications, raw material specifications, risk assessments, delivery documentation, supplier assurances or verification testing.

Principles for the risk analysis of foods derived from modern biotechnology (Codex) – Click Here
Legislation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically modified (GM) plants and foods – Click Here
Genetically modified (GM) food labelling in Australia – Click Here
Search the EU register for products containing GMOs – Click Here

Have your say

Does your business use genetically modified raw materials or have labelling indicating a GM or non-GM food status? Share your views with the HACCP Mentor community by leaving a comment below.

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