FSSAI: Mandatory labelling provision for GMO food soon

In a recent research it was revealed that, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) were one of the ingredients found in ready-to-eat food, cooking oils, breakfast cereals, but its presence was not mentioned on the packets. These products are popular in urban markets, but consumers are unaware about presence of GM food while consuming these products

FSSAI: Mandatory labelling provision for GMO food soon

While different surveys are showing how processed food products which contain GMO food as one of the ingredients exist in Indian market without mentioning on the packet about it, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued draft notification which includes mandatory labelling provision for genetically engineered or modified foods.

Recently, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)’s pollution monitoring laboratory tested 65 samples of processed food for presence of genetically modified (GM) ingredients.

Of the food samples tested, some 32% were positive for GM markers, without any label about presence of GM ingredients. While researchers have proven that not all GM food is healthy, not to mention about it on the food products is worrisome fact.

But, the recent draft notification on labelling by FSSAI says that, “All food products having total Genetically Engineered (GE) ingredients 5% or more shall be labelled. The total GE ingredients shall be of top three ingredients in terms of their percentage in the product.”

Many researchers have shown that some GMO foods have allergic impact on consumers. Researchers say that there should be labelling about presence of GMO food to ensure that consumers get a chance to make informed decision.

The press release by FSSAI, published last week, mentions, ‘the FSSAI has also framed draft Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations that also specify threshold levels for labelling requirements of GM foods. These proposed regulations will further bind food businesses to provide appropriate information to the consumers so as to enable them to exercise their informed choice in respect of purchase of foods, including GM foods, should any such foods be approved for manufacture or import in India.’

The intended regulations would essentially lay down procedures for safety assessment and approval of foods including imported foods, derived from genetic modification processes based on the internationally well established and accepted scientific principles, procedures and best practices before being approved for food purposes.