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Greens issue GE food brand details

Nov 22, 1999

Green Party Health Spokesperson and safe food campaigner Sue Kedgley today called on all food manufacturers to "come clean now" and publish lists of the foods they produce that contain genetically engineered ingredients.

The Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) says it conservatively estimates that there are 500 products in the New Zealand food supply which contain genetically engineered ingredients. (Proposal P200, November 1999).

"Manufacturers know which ones these are," Ms Kedgley said. "To comply with the new standard on GE foods which came into effect in May 1999, they need to know exactly what genetically engineered ingredients are in their foods, and be certain that only specific ingredients that have been given provisional approval by ANZFA are contained in their products."

It is time they shared this information with consumers, as they are required to do under the food regulations which stipulated that all foods must contain a description `sufficient to indicate the true nature of the food', Ms Kedgley said.

"New Zealanders have been waiting for two years now to find out which products contain what genetically engineered ingredients. Now we are being told we will have to wait a further 18 months for a labelling regime that will give us this information, and there could be further delays as well.

"Consumers are fed up with all this procrastination - they want the information now."

In the meantime, the Greens are releasing a list of brands of food that manufacturers acknowledge does, or may contain, genetically engineered ingredients, Ms Kedgley said.

She congratulated those companies such as Heinz Watties, Sanitarium, Hubbards and Bluebird which had removed GE ingredients from their brands, or were in the process of doing so. She also congratulated companies like Mainland that openly acknowledge which GE ingredients they use in some of their products. She called on other companies to follow their lead and either get rid of GE ingredients which consumers did not want to eat, and which had no nutritional or other benefits for consumers, or inform consumers of their presence in food.

"We are by no means suggesting our details are comprehensive, but they are the best we can provide without access to information which manufacturers should be issuing themselves."

Sue Kedgley 04 3849123, 021 722222, Paul Bensemann, Press Secretary 021 214 2665 Genetically modified food on New Zealand supermarket shelves

1/ The following company states that its products contain genetically modified organisms:

* Mainland says there is a 'new type of rennet derived from genetically modified bacteria' which is used in vegetarian and kosher cheeses. It did not specify if this cheese was on NZ supermarket shelves, or for export only. Mainland says it uses 'genetically modified soybean and corn based ingredients in a number of processed meat products'. Mainland produces the Huttons range of processed meat products (letter from Baird McConnon April 13, 1999).

2/ The following companies say some of their products contain GM ingredients, or they 'can't rule it out'. For this reason it is quite likely that they do:

* Nestle says only three of its products (Nescafe coffee, Tux dog biscuits and Karo) 'can be guaranteed to be GE free'. Nestle supports the 'responsible use of biotechnology' and says it sources some of its raw material from suppliers who cannot guarantee the absence of GE material.' (November 18 telephone conversation with Jan Todd; letter 11 June 1999).

* Unilever says it is unable to guarantee that some of the ingredients in their products 'are not derived from GE crops'. (letter from Garry West, 3 June 1999)

* Meadow Lea foods acknowledges that soya and cotton seed oils used in their foods could come from crops that may have been genetically modified. (letter from Hayden Sentch, 10 June 1999)

* Arnotts says some of its biscuits may contain small amounts of lecithin that could be sourced from ge soy beans. (letters, 31 March and November 18)

* Pams and the Budget brand can't guarantee their products are '100% GE free" and say they will use GE-free "if they can". (Pat Gallagher, PA to CEO Bart Wright).

* McDonalds can't guarantee its sauces are GE-free as some of the ingredients are imported. However, it has asked its suppliers not to use ingredients that may contain GMOs. (November 19 telephone conversation Leanne Donovan: letter 27 April)

* Alison's Choice says lecithin and the oils used in their products cannot be guaranteed to be GE-free, but it is seeking "irrefutable evidence from suppliers of their GE free status". (November 18 telephone call with Russelle Knapp, letter 20 July from Bernie Crosby).

* Ernest Adams cannot guarantee that the soya oils or margarines it presently uses are GE-free, but it is looking at alternative ingredients and suppliers so it can move towards being completely "GM-free". (letter from Linda Mott, 30 June 1999).

* Delmaine cannot guarantee that the additives used in Delmaine Sauces are GMO-free. However, to the best of its knowledge the rest of the products it distributes are GE-free. Delmaine has now sourced new suppliers for these ingredients and can guarantee that supplies on shelves from about January will be GE-free (letter from Rebecca Clarke, 8 June 1999 and November 19 telephone conversation)

* Kelloggs uses a very small amount of oil (approximately 1 percent) in one of its minor brands, but will source a GE-free oil for this brand by the end of the year.

* Sanitarium still cannot guarantee that all its products are GE-free, although it is taking "all possible steps" to ensure they are. So Good milk is GE-free, and Sanitarium has set up an "Identity Preservation Process" to ensure that all its products are free from GE material.

* Cadbury's does not use GE soya beans or lecithin from GM sources in its products that are made in New Zealand. ( June 1 letter).

* Tip Top is committed to being GE free but has not yet received assurances from its suppliers that all its additives and conditioners are ge-free. (Nov 18 letter from Mr Taylor).

* Country Goodness margarine says it cannot guarantee that the oils it uses are GE free, but they are auditing them at present. (telephone conversation November 17)

* Karicare soy infant formula say all their soy is from GE free beans. (Gerard Weenk, telephone November 17)

* Hubbards say to the best of their knowledge all their products are ge-free.

3/ The following companies say they guarantee their foods are 100% GE-free:

* Schweppes/Coca Cola Amatil, Infasoy infant formula, Heinz Watties (this includes Craigs, Eta, Complan) Bluebird (this includes Edmonds, Flemings, CC's, Sunshine Rice Risotto, Diamond, Uncle Toby's Champion Flour) McCains, Sanitarium peanut butter and So Good.

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