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Inghams gets ticking off over "no GM" claims

Published: 11:49AM Wednesday November 18, 2009 Source: Newstalk ZB/ONE News

A warning has been issued to poultry producer Inghams Enterprises, over its claims that its chickens contain no genetically modified ingredients.

It follows an investigation by the Commerce Commission.

Inghams had advertised that its chicken contained no GM ingredients and have no hormones or artificial colours, when they had been fed soya feed which comprised 13 percent genetically modified soy.

The commission warned Ingahms they breaching the Fair Trading Act and engaged Canterbury University to research the claim.

It concluded that GM plant material can transfer to animals exposed to GM feeds in their diets or environment.

Jack Heinemann, Professor of Genetics and Molecular biology at Canterbury University concluded that, "The cumulative strength of the positive detections reviewed &leave me in no reasonable uncertainty that GM plant material can transfer to animals exposed to GM feed in their diets or environment, and that there can be a residual difference in animals or animal-products as a result of exposure to GM feed." 

To view the full Canterbury University report on Inghams chickens click here.

Commerce Commission Director of Fair Trading, Adrian Sparrow says that what they are interested in is not the actual science, but that consumers could feel misled.

"Many consumers wish to avoid food products that contain GM ingredients and this is why food manufacturers like to position themselves as GM free. However consumers ought to be able to rely on the statements made in advertising," Sparrow says.

"To consumers, perception is everything. Someone buying a chicken that is promoted as containing no GM ingredients, would not expect that the chickens had been fed on 13% GM soya feed," he says.

The commission has decided to only warn the company, rather than fine them, but the Green Party says the decision highlights a gap in our labelling laws.

"At the moment if you go into a supermarket you cannot figure out if the chicken you're going to buy has been fed genetically-modified feed or not , says Green Party MP Sue Kedgely.

Inghams ceased the advertising when the investigation began but the Commerce Commission says it will continue to monitor the company.

 In a statement Ingham say "The Company accepts the decision of the NZ Commerce Commission and amended the advertising campaign immediately it became aware of the Commerce Commission concerns."

What do you think of the Inghams advertisement saying their chickens contain no genetically modified ingredients, when in fact they do? Did you buy the chicken under the perception it was GM free? Leave your message below:

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  • whatumene said on 2009-11-19 @ 17:31 NZDT: Report abusive post

    A chook is a a bridge...get over it. Wait until you know who wants to take ownership of them and we cant get them'll be grateful.

  • slumbergod said on 2009-11-19 @ 05:55 NZDT: Report abusive post

    It is important to send a strong message to food manufacturers that consumers have a right to know what is in their food and where it comes from. Ingram should be prosecuted.

  • remillard said on 2009-11-18 @ 22:51 NZDT: Report abusive post

    The issue seems to be whether the chickens were GE free. I would say they were in the traditional sense of what we consider GE, something that has been genetically engineered. The chicken was in no way genetically engineered. Saying because the chicken was feed GE soy it is there for not GE free would infer that if you or I are part lamb or radish purely because we ate these foods. Please Green party stop the scare tactics.

  • markfeenstra said on 2009-11-18 @ 18:16 NZDT: Report abusive post

    The claim to be GE free was intended to convince customers of a fact which Ingrams must have been aware was untrue. Even in the unikely event they were not aware of of it, surely it is incumbent on Ingrams to ensure that this type information of is accurate before stating it. I think they should be prosecuted. If so, who has this responsiblity?

  • jheb2007 said on 2009-11-18 @ 15:38 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Yea - I did buy Inghams because a) it is cheaper than Tegal and b) also for the fact they said they were GM free....they need more than a warning over this ...false advertising.