S.I. No. 268 of 2013 implements Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 and Regulation (EC) No 1830/2003. Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 sets out specific labelling requirements for GM foods which are to be delivered as such to the final consumer or mass caterers and which:
- contain or consist of GMOs; or
- are produced from or contain ingredients produced from GMOs
Specific GM labelling under Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 is not required if a food contains, consists of or is produced from a GMO in a proportion not higher than 0.9% of the food ingredient considered individually, provided that this presence is adventitious or technically unavoidable. In order to establish that the presence of this GM material is adventitious or technically unavoidable, operators must be in a position to supply evidence to satisfy competent authorities that they have taken appropriate steps to avoid the presence of such material.
Where the GM component of a food or food ingredient comprises greater than 0.9% of that food or food ingredient, it shall be labelled accordingly:
- where the food consists of more than one ingredient, the words ‘genetically modified’ or ‘produced from genetically modified (name of the ingredient)’ must appear in the list of ingredients provided for in Article 9 of Regulation (EU) 1169/2011 in parentheses immediately following the ingredient concerned;
- where the ingredient is designated by the name of a category, the words ‘contains genetically modified (name of organism)’ or ‘contains (name of ingredient) produced from genetically modified (name of organism)’ must appear in the list of ingredients;
- where there is no list of ingredients, the words ‘genetically modified’ or ‘produced from genetically modified (name of organism)’ must appear clearly on the labelling;
- the GM indications may appear in a footnote to the list of ingredients. In this case they shall be printed in a font of at least the same size as the list of ingredients. Where there is no list of ingredients, they must appear clearly on the labelling;
- where the food is offered for sale to the final consumer as non-pre-packaged food, or as pre-packaged food in small containers of which the largest surface has an area of less than 10cm2, the information required must be permanently and visibly displayed either on the food display or immediately next to it, or on the packaging material, in a font sufficiently large for it to be easily identified and read.
In addition to the above labelling requirements, Regulation (EC) No 1830/2003 requires that food business operators ensure that products consisting of or containing GMOs include the following on the label:
- for pre-packaged products consisting of, or containing GMOs, the words ‘This product contains genetically modified organisms’ or ‘This product contains genetically modified [name of organism(s)]’ appear on a label;
- for non-pre-packaged products offered to the final consumer the words ‘This product contains genetically modified organisms’ or ‘This product contains genetically modified [name of organism(s)]’ shall appear on, or in connection with, the display of the product.
Conventional food products may unintentionally contain traces of GMOs, for example, due to cross-pollination, or due to adventitious or technically unavoidable mixing of GM and non-GM ingredients during harvesting, storage, transport or processing. Such products are not subject to traceability or labelling requirements if the GMO traces are no higher than 0.9% of the individual ingredient and where the operator can demonstrate to the competent authority that they have taken appropriate steps to avoid the presence of GM material.
Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 does not require labelling of products such as meat, milk or eggs obtained from animals fed with GM feed or treated with GM medicinal products. The voluntary use of terms such as “GM free” is subject to the requirements of Regulation (EU) 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers and must not mislead the consumer.