Labelling food products

Labelling genetically modified food products

In all European Union (EU) member states - including the UK - you must properly label food if it:

  • is made entirely of genetically modified (GM) material
  • contains GM material
  • includes ingredients that are made from GM material

If foods like these are sold 'loose' - ie not in packaging - then information must be displayed next to the food to tell the consumer that it contains GM material.

Mandatory GM labelling

Under the GM food and feed regulations, if you use any GM ingredients intentionally, you must label them. Products such as flours, oils and glucose syrups made from a GM source must be labelled as GM. This is the case regardless of the amount of GM material present in the final product.

When labelling is not required

The regulations allow non-GM foods to contain a small amount of GM material without GM labelling. However, only if the GM material:

  • was not added intentionally
  • makes up no more than 0.9 per cent of the relevant ingredient
  • is authorised by the EU

Labelling is also not required for:

  • products made with GM technology - for example, cheese made with GM enzymes
  • products such as meat, milk and eggs from animals fed with GM feed

The relevant regulations in Northern Ireland are the Genetically Modified Food Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2004.

Animal feed

Many of the rules that cover GM material in food for human consumption also apply to animal feed. This means that:

  • only authorised GM material can be added to animal feed marketed in the EU
  • animal feed containing intentionally-added GM or GM-derived material must be properly labelled 
  • non-GM feed containing up to 0.9 per cent of GM material doesn't need to have GM labelling as long as the material was not added intentionally