Genetically Modified Food - Who's doing what?

This information was gathered and maintained during the period 1998-2000, during which some UK food suppliers continued to use GM ingredients. Much of the information is now out-of-date.

Currently no UK food manufacturer knowingly uses any GM ingredients or derivatives.

See also Genetically Modified Food - UK News


Other pages -> News | Contact Addresses and Links | Who's Doing What? | | GM Ingredients <- Other pages


CompanyActionDateSource
Bistro 77 "We do not use any GM food in any of our dishes (all food is made fresh on the premises and we rigorously check all our suppliers) and are supporters of the Greenpeace 'Restaurants against GM foods' campaign." 18 September 1999 E-mail from Bistro 77 owner
British Sugar, UK Does not use and will not be using genetically modified sugar beet 10 March 1999 British Sugar Web Site
Carrefour, UK/France "The French food company which established Britainís first hypermarkets removed all GM food from its shelves last night." 6 February 1999 Daily Mail
Clements Vegetarian Restaurant, UK Does not use any genetically modified ingredients 19 March 1999 Conversation with owner
George Skoulikas Ltd, UK "I would like to confirm that our products do not contain genetically modified ingredients, that includes the lecithin used in our organic halva.

Please be assured that it is our company policy that none of our products contain genetically modified ingredients."
26 February 1999 Letter from Selwyn Fernandes
House of Commons Restaurants, UK "In the purchasing of food, the Refreshment Department not only considers the price being offered, but also takes into account criteria such as the quality and wholesomeness of the produce available, food safety issues and consumer confidence; the latter requires the Department's procurement officer to be aware of ethical and environmental issues relating to the food chain and to advise the Department's management in order that customer confidence can be maintained at all times."

"...to avoid, wherever identifiable, the procurement of foods which contain genetically modified organisms."
20 July 1998 Hansard
Marks & Spencer, UK Marks & Spencer today announced it has become the first High Street retailer who can guarantee that all food products sold in its stores are now being made without GM ingredients or derivatives.

Since March, M&S has reviewed its entire catalogue of 3500 foods. Over 5000 individual ingredients made from soya and maize were checked and changes were made to 1800 recipes.
2 July 1999 Press Release on Marks & Spencers Web Site
Marlow Foods (Quorn), UK "The major component of Quorn products is myco-protein which unlike soya is mushroom in origin. We can guarantee that myco-protein is not genetically modified or engineered in any way.

Our policy is to ensure that no Quorn branded products contain ingredients that are genetically modified."
1 March 1999 Jane E Horne, Consumer Service Assistant
Mars, UK "Mars's overriding concern is to manufacture products which meet the highest standards of quality and safety. Consequently, all the ingredients we use in our products are legal and thus safe defined by the competent authorities in the countries concerned. Labelling of our products will always comply with the relevant regulations and laws.

We can confirm that none of our products contain any genetically modified material."
25 February 1999 Letter from Gill Coop, External Relations
Meridian Foods, UK "I am delighted to inform you that all Meridian products are free of genetically modified ingredients and I have enclosed a copy of our company statement which explains our position in more detail." 28 January 1999 Letter from Debbie Lewis, Customer Services
Monsanto Staff Canteen, UK Caterers have delivered Monsanto the final insult by banning genetically modified food from the GM giant's own staff canteen "in response to concern raised by our customers." 22 December 1999 BBC News Report
Organics Direct, UK "Organic food is produced without the use of chemical pesticides, fertilisers or the routine use of animal antibiotics or other drugs. It is also free from genetically engineered ingredients." 23 February 1999 Web Site
Pizza Express, UK Does PizzaExpress Use Genetically Modified Products?
To the best of our knowledge and under the guidance of our suppliers, PizzaExpress does not use GM products in its menu. (E-mail : qc@pizzaexpress.co.uk)
December 1999 FAQs on Pizza Express Web Site
Pret a Manger, UK "I am glad to be able to tell you that we are completely GMO free. We do not use any GM soya, maize or any of their derivatives." 10 September 1999 Letter from Ken Williams, Customer Services Manager
Sun-Rype, USA "Our Okanagan Dried Fruit is a 100% natural product. There are no genetically modified ingredients that are used in the production of these bars." 5 March 1999 Letter from Cindy Hazelton, Consumer Services Clerk
Whole Earth, UK "We strictly control all our ingredients to exclude genetically engineered or irradiated materials." August 1999 Whole Earth Web Site
Haldane Foods, UK "Haldane Foods are very pleased to announce that we have secured supplies of Soya ingredients produced from identity-preserved traditional Soya beans, and all production will be made from this new source of Soya." (leaflet)

"It goes without saying that we are very pleased at the prospect of having an ongoing GM-free product." (letter)

However, testing by Daily Mail (27 February 1999) revealed that GM ingredients are currently present in Real Eat and So Good products, produced by Haldane.
1 March 1999 Letter and leaflet from Graham Keen, Sales and Marketing Director
Holland and Barrett, UK "...we can now guarantee own label foodstuffs are free from modification.

We have also encouraged all other suppliers to actively avoid the use of GM materials in their products so can also confirm that all branded food lines currently sold in our stores are free from genetically modified organisms. (This has been substantiated by statements from our suppliers)."

However...

"Products in non-food categories like vitamins, minerals and other supplements, do not fall under the new labelling regulations.

This is because the processing of the ingredients removes all of the protein and DNA from the original soya, thereby also removing from the finished product, any trace of modified material that may or may not have been present in the first place.

This means that products that contain derivatives of soya like lecithin or soya oil do not need to indicate whether they contain GM materials or not. Therefore in line with other manufacturers of supplements such as Quest, Healthcrafts or Lanes we have no plans to make any labelling changes to our products at this time."

(This last information is debatable - a follow up letter is being sent to obtain more details.)
19 February 1999 Letter from Lin Pearson, Customer Services
Heinz, UK "We do not currently use ingredients containing genetically modified material in Heinz varieties, however, we would consider their use in the future if ingredients have been fully approved by the relevant regulatory and scientific authorities. We also follow the EC Regulation that came into force on 1st September 1998 on the labelling of GM soya and maize."

(Currently GM free, but beware in future.)
26 February 1999 Letter from "Consumer Contact"
Iceland, UK "From 1 May [1998] no Iceland own brand production will contain any ingredients which have been genetically modified."

(However, non-own-brand food sold in Iceland may still be genetically modified.)
18 March 1998 Public letter from Malcolm Walker, Chairman
Kellogg's, UK "Our products in Europe do not contain genetically modified material. However, we have not ruled out the possibility that we could use genetically modified ingredients in the future."

(Currently GM free, but beware in future.)
3 March 1999 Margaret Thorniley, Consumer Services Administrator
Linda McCartney, UK "Sir Paul McCartney has vowed to eliminate genetically-modified ingredients from his late wife's range of vegetarian foods. The former Beatle said he was shocked to hear that modified soya had been found in Linda McCartney products.

His pledge follows claims made by BBC Two's Newsnight programme that Linda McCartney's vegetarian sausages and mince contained genetically-modified (GM) soya, despite assurances from the company that they did not. The programme said scientific tests it commissioned showed that Linda McCartney mince and sausages contained Monsanto's Round-Up Ready genetically-modified soya."
16 February 1999

and

10 June 1999
BBC News (16 Feb 1999)

and

BBC News (10 June 1999)
Nestle / Cereal Partners, UK "Nestle breakfast cereals do not at present contain any genetically modified materials. If at any time in the future such materials are used, the pack will be clearly labelled in accordance with government legislation." (letter)

and

"We do believe that the responsible use of gene technology in agriculture will bring benefits to farmers, industry and consumers. We are therefore prepared to use ingredients which may be derived from genetically modified crops where it is necessary to do so or a clear benefit can be shown." (note)

(Currently GM free, but beware in future.)
24 February 1999 Letter and "note" from Jill Elsdon, Consumer Services
Sainsbury's, UK "Sainsbury's says it is the first major UK supermarket chain to have eliminated genetically modified ingredients from its own-brand products.
The company said it had worked with more than 1,000 suppliers to review its whole range of products.
It had clearly labelled all relevant items from its 12,000-plus range until it could secure GM-free alternatives.
It has now successfully reformulated all affected products with non-GM ingredients."
However, Sainsbury's worked with Zeneca (now AstraZeneca) to develop GM tomatoes

(Sainsbury's continues to stock non-own-brand food containing GM ingredients.)
19 July 1999 http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/newsid_397000/397927.stm
Tesco, UK "We are giving a cautious welcome to the introduction of genetically modified products, but we do appreciate the importance of our customers being able to make informed choices about the products they buy. We also know that some of our customers are concerned about foods that may contain genetically modified ingredients, and we have therefore pledged to label all of our products accurately and fully adhere to the new European regulations." (5 February 1999)

"We have recently decided to remove GM ingredients from products wherever it is practical to do so. This will reduce considerably the number of products containing such ingredients, while maintaining the range available to our customers. At the same time Tesco will provide increased GM-free options by adding to the number of items in our organic range. We are already energetically seeking reliable sources of genuinely GM free ingredients and are pleased that Greenpeace has agreed to discuss working with us to meet this challenge.

We have been giving careful consideration to going GM-free, however our customers tell us that they are suspicious of GM-free claims made by others and want us to be both open and honest. Therefore, where we cannot absolutely guarantee that all the ingredients are GM-free, we will label." (28 April 1999)

(However, this means that Tesco continues to stock foods containing GM ingredients at the present time)
5 February 1999 - New policy announced on 28 April 1999 Letter from Linda Kelly, Customer Service Manager plus later information from Fiona Douglas
Waitrose, UK "Has only four GM products left and is working to phase out use of GM ingredients in products." 13 February 1999 Daily Mail
Asda, UK "We told suppliers to refrain from using GM soya or maize in new own-label products and certified non-GM sources of soya and maize in existing products."

(This means that existing products may still contain GM ingredients. Policy not clear on non-own-label products.)
17 February 1999 Nick Agarwall, Asda Press Office, Quoted from Daily Telegraph, 17 February 1999, page 4
Bella Pasta, UK Meals definitely contain GM ingredients but are not labelled on the menu.

2 May 1999 Conversation with Branch Manager
Boots, UK No clear policy on Genetically Modified ingredients in sandwiches or medicines. No information on web site about GM ingredients.

Letter from Customer Service confirms this lack of clear policy : "A small number of Boots brand products do or may contain genetically modified ingredients or their derivatives. Where this is the case, the product will be labelled in accordance with current legislation so that consumers can choose whether or not to purchase them.

It is extremely difficult to be sure in every instance that standard ingredients such as soya and maize do not include some proportion of genetically modified materials through mixing at source or in transit. We will continue to make every effort to identify the precise origin of every food ingredient, and any Boots products affected will be labelled accordingly." (letter 23 February)

"Regrettably we are unable to supply you with a list of products which may contain genetically modified ingredients." (letter 22 February)
16 February 1999

and

19 February 1999

and

23 February 1999
Shop Assistant, Victoria Street, London (16 February 1999) and phone call to company Head Office (16 February 1999).

and

Discussion with Pharmacist at Boots, Waterloo Station, London (19 February 1999) confirms that the company policy is still very unclear.

Sandwiches which may contain GM ingredients are still being sold without labelling or other warning. (5 March 1999)

and

E-mail of 2 April 1999 confirms that many Boots "lunchtime" products contain Genetically Modified ingredients which are not correctly labelled.


Letters from Nikki Greenfield, Customer Service (22 February and 23 February 1999), conversations with staff and e-mail from Boots Customer Service (2 April 1999).
British Airways, UK No clear policy on GM food.

(Assume that food offered onboard British Airways flights may contain Genetically Modified ingredients.)
February 1999 Conversation with check-in staff.
British Airways CityFlyer, UK "Whilst we have every confidence in the quality of food supplied by our onboard caterers, we understand the concerns of our customers following the recent publicity surrounding genetically modified food. Our Caterers are currently investigating the matter to establish the source of all food provided by them and their suppliers, as you will appreciate this will take some time. Therefore, when I have further information I will contact you again."

(Assume that food offered onboard British Airways CityFlyer flights may contain Genetically Modified ingredients.)
3 March 1999 Mrs N Keen, Customer Relations Executive
Britvic, UK Continuing to use ingredients derived from GM maize. These may include : Citric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Oils and Starches.

See statement for details.
7 March 2000 Statement from Britvic Corporate Communication Department dated 26 March 1999
Continental Airlines Continuing to use GM ingredients in food offered onboard. 1999-2000 Numerous letters from Continental Customer Services, UK
Frito-Lay, USA
Subject: Re: Genetically Modified ingredients
From: "Affairs, Consumer" Consumer.Affairs@fritolay.com
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 16:01:14 -0600

Thank you for contacting Frito-Lay. We are always pleased when our consumers take the time to share their thoughts with us.

Now that there is a renewed interest in biotechnology by regulatory agencies and some consumer confusion exists, we did not feel it appropriate to ask our growers to include bt crops in what they sell us. At the same time, we have no plans to market or advertise any claim of "Genetically Modified-Free" products.

Just like other food companies, Frito-Lay relies on and supports the regulatory agencies charged with safeguarding our food supply when sourcing ingredients for our products. These agencies continue to report that genetically modified ingredients are perfectly safe.

Since we are also a large buyer of agricultural commodities, and more than a quarter of the North American crop is derived from biotechnology, just like other food companies, we could have biotechnology ingredients in our products.

Thank you for taking the time to contact Frito-Lay. We hope this information is helpful.

Frito-Lay Consumer Affairs

(Frito-Lay is using Genetically Modified ingredients, despite claiming to have halted the use of Genetically Modified corn)
17 February 2000 E-mail from Frito-Lay Consumer Affairs
Kirin Beer, USA Subject: Genetically Modified Corn
From: "Watanabe, Junpei" watanabe@kirinba.com
Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 17:02:15 -0700

To: Mr. Marcus Williamson

It is true that Kirin Beer Product (both Japanese and USA) uses genetically modified corn. Actually, most of the beer uses genetically modified corn.

Kirin decided to stop using this from Year 2001, and so far Kirin is the only company to make this decision


Junpei Watanabe
Kirin Brewery of America LLC

1 September 1999 E-mail from Junpei Watanbe, Kirin Breweries of America LLC
Lumen Foods, USA Continuing to use GM soya in their products.

Greg Caton, founder of Lumen Foods, actively promotes GMO technology on his web site, using articles by Dennis T Avery and Michael Fumento, both of the Hudson Institute. The Hudson Institute is funded by AgrEvo, Dow AgroSciences, Monsanto Company, Novartis Crop Protection, Zeneca, amongst others.
2 February 2000 Lumen Foods Web Site
McDonalds, USA "The use of biotechnology is a very complex subject that relies on agricultural, scientific and governmental experts for guidance on this matter. In the U.S., genetically modified foods are found in food sources in the open market from where our suppliers buy their ingredients. At this time, federal regulations do not require the identification of crops using biotechnology so our suppliers would not know if the products they purchase come from these particular sources."

(McDonalds is using Genetically Modified ingredients in its products)
27 January 2000 E-mail from Megan - Customer Satisfaction Department, McDonalds
Muller Dairy, UK "At the present time we are unaware of any current ingredients that require a statement to the effect that the product contains a genetically modified ingredient.

We will constantly review our ingredients and any changes to the legislation in order to make sure that our packaging indicates the presence of genetically modified ingredients, identified by the current legislation."

(Assume that products may contain GM ingredients which do not require labelling.)
22 February 1999 Letter headed "WITHOUT PREJUDICE" from Miss M Gater, Customer Relations Assistant
Nestle, UK "We do believe that the responsible use of gene technology in agriculture will bring benefits to farmers, industry and consumers. We are therefore prepared to use ingredients which may be derived from genetically modified crops where it is necessary to do so or a clear benefit can be shown...

Nestle UK does not currently sell any products requiring labelling under current GM legislation. However, we are aware that the recent debate has embraced ingredients which may have come from GM crops but which have been purified so they no longer contain any GM material.

(Assume that some products may contain GM ingredients or derivatives)
26 February 1999 Letter and leaflet from Kath Mort, Administration Advisor, Consumer Services
Quaker, USA " The safety of Quaker's products is of the utmost importance to us. This is why Quaker U.S. uses only foods that have been declared safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including foods developed through biotechnology. The FDA has concluded that these foods are the same - and therefore, as safe - as other foods in their nutrition, composition and ability to be used as foods in other products.

Quaker's oats and oatmeal are not developed through biotechnology. In fact, there are no oats developed through biotechnology currently available on the market. While Quaker does not require or exclude the use of these foods, the use of corn, canola and soya developed through food biotechnology is widespread. Currently, there is no system in place in the United States that separates these foods. So, there is a high probability that some of Quaker's products contain foods developed through biotechnology.

Food biotechnology is not a new phenomenon. Since Roman times, plants have been selectively crossbred to develop crops that are tastier, more hearty and more resistant to certain pests and plant diseases than their predecessors. Modern biotechnology provides an ability to transfer desired traits into plants much faster and more selectively. This, in turn, can result in fewer pesticides being used, greater conservation of land and water, better tasting and more nutritional foods and more abundant food supplies to address world hunger.

Quaker will continue to use only foods that are declared safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Additionally, Quaker will use only foods that we believe are safe for our consumers' families.

We appreciate the opportunity to respond.
"

(There is a "high probability" that Quaker products contain Genetically Modified ingredients)
16 February 2000 E-mail from Ken, Quaker Consumer Relations
Safeway, UK "We believe that genetic modification has the potential to provide products with improved quality and flavour, and with reduced impact on the environment through the reduced use of pesticides and agrochemicals."

(Safeway stocks many products containing GM ingredients.)
22 February 1999 Letter from Jan Baker, Safeway Stores PLC
Somerfield, UK Continues to stock food containing GM ingredients. For example, Somerfield Soya Spread. 17 February 1999 Daily Telegraph 17 February 1999, page 4
W Jordan Cereals, UK "Jordans, as a manufacturer of high quality natural breakfast cereals and snacks, do not use ingredients which would require our products to be labelled as genetically modified."

(The means W Jordan will only label GM foods when legally necessary. In the meantime, assume that GM ingredients are present.)
24 February 1999 Letter from Chairman, Bill Jordan
Walkers Crisps, UK "Walkers has been faced with the issue of the very small levels of some processed ingredients used in our flavourings which have been derived from soya beans and maize that could have been genetically modified for agricultural purposes. It is with regards to these ingredients we await the definitions from the government that tell us whether labelling is required or not."

(Walkers has no commitment to remove these GM ingredients from its products.)
26 February 1999 Letter from Mike Gale, Technical Advisor
Wild Oats, USA Wild Oats has still not committed to remove GM ingredients and derivatives from all products stocked in its stores. April 2000 Wild Oats website

Key :

Green - No GM foods being sold by this company.

Orange - The company has made a statement regarding not using GM ingredients and derivatives - awaiting confirmation that current stocks no longer contain GM ingredients. This category is also used for companies stating that "own brand" products are GM free, but which do not commit to removing all brands containing GM ingredients.

Red - No clear policy or company is continuing to sell foods containing GM ingredients or derivatives of GM ingredients.

Legal Note : the sequence and colouring of entries for the companies shown above does not imply any difference in the quality of food or service provided by each of the companies and should not be interpreted as such. The information shown here is believed to be correct at the time of upload.

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