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
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: