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GM foods (manufacturing)

Genetic modification (or gene technology) provides new ways for identifying food characteristics and transferring them between living organisms.

Licensing, registration

As an operator in the GM foods space, you will need to:

  1. undergo a food safety assessment before your GM product can be taken to market
  2. label products according to the national guideline 

See also: manufacturing & wholesaling (general) requirements. 

Labelling

A national guideline exists to help businesses in the GM foods industry understand when labelling is required. It is a Compliance Guide to Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code and is a working summary of Standard 1.5.2 - Food Produced Using Gene Technology. The key points include:

  • GM foods must be labelled with the words 'genetically modified'
  • the reference to a product being genetically modified must be next to the name of the food or alongside the specific ingredient in the ingredient list
  • for unpackaged foods that have been genetically modified, the reference to genetic modification must be included on the display unit at point-of-sale.

There are some exceptions for when labelling GM foods is not required:

  • when the GM food does not contain any altered characteristics meaning the food is exactly the same as the non-GM food
  • when flavours containing novel DNA or protein are in a concentration of no more than 0.1%
  • when there is no more than 1% (per ingredient) of an approved GM food unintentionally present as an ingredient or processing aid in a non-GM food.
     

A national survey was conducted to assess the level of industry compliance with Standard 1.5.2 - Food Produced Using Gene Technology. The results of the survey, National Surveillance Program for Genetically Modified Foods can be found here.

Inspections & audits

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is responsible for approving GM foods and food ingredients for use in the food supply.

The FSANZ process follows international protocol and involves a thorough safety assessment to ensure that GM foods are as safe and nutritious as their conventional equal. The key summary points from the GM safety assessment, include:

  • it is the operators responsibility to provide evidence to FSANZ that supports the safety of their product
  • raw data that is generated from an approved scientific laboratory must be provided to FSANZ when making an application for approval of a new GM food.

The assessment includes analysis of:

  • the composition of the food
  • safety of new substances that have been introduced into the food
  • characterisation of the genetic changes that have been introduced into the organism.

You can find more information on the FSANZ safety assessment process here: Safety Assessment of Genetically Modified Foods.

Legislation & standards

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