"Gmo free" marketing claim

Genetically modified (gm) food and feed are provided for in Regulations adopted in the European Community.  The principle is to ensure that consumers are informed and have a choice.This has been implemented by specifying GMO information mandatory in product labelling or presentation in connection with marketing. The consumer can be certain that if there is no indication of genetic modification in the labelling, the food product is not genetically modified.

However, the mandatory labelling of food products does not in all respects meet the information needs and expectations of consumers.For this reason, food products bear a multitude of marketing claims based on voluntary systems, particularly as regards origin and the production mode, in addition to mandatory labelling based on legislation.

Voluntary marketing claims stating that gene technology has not been utilised in the production of the food or feed, or that the product does not contain genetically modified ingredients are not specifically prohibited in regulations. The labelling shall, however, always be clear and explicit, and not mislead the consumer.

At present, EU has not specified common criteria for "gmo free", "the animal has been fed with gmo free feed" or corresponding marketing claims.Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira has drawn up for Finnish operators guidelines for the use of voluntary "gmo free" marketing claims on food and feed products. According to the guidelines:

  • The "gm free" or corresponding marketing claims may only be used on food products that can contain genetically modified ingredients authorised in EU (e.g. soy, maize or rapeseed), if the food product does not contain any genetically modified ingredients (level of gm ingredient 0% = detection limit). Even minute levels of a gm ingredient in the product will be considered misleading. Only properties with respect to which the product differs from other corresponding products may be attributed to food products.
  • The "gm free" or corresponding marketing claims are not permitted at all on food products that contain ingredients of which no genetically modified species authorised in EU exists (e.g. rice, oats, papaya, carrot or blueberry), due to their being misleading.
  • The voluntary "produced without gene technology", "gmo free" or corresponding marketing claims may only be used on foodstuffs of animal origin (e.g. meat, milk, egg or farmed fish),when the animal has been fed with regular feed throughout its life cycle.