Genetic modification (or gene technology) provides new ways for identifying food characteristics and transferring them between living organisms.
As an operator in the GM foods space, you will need to:
- undergo a food safety assessment before your GM product can be taken to market
- label products according to the national guideline
See also: manufacturing & wholesaling (general) requirements.
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
You will need to meet the requirements set out in the:
- Food Act 2003 (NSW)
- Food Regulation 2015
- Food Standards Code, including parts relevant for manufacturers and wholesalers generally, and: