Purity baby food caught in GM labelling row

2013-05-08 00:00

PURITY baby cereals contain high levels of genetically modified maize, but this is not declared on their label.

So says the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB), which released results of tests conducted by an independent and accredited GM testing laboratory on May 6. The laboratory tested seven baby formulas and cereals for genetically modified (GM) content.

The Consumer Protection Act, which came into force in 2011, states that all food containing five percent or higher of GM material must be labelled.

The test results revealed that Purity’s Cream of Maize tested positive with 56,25% GM maize, and Purity Baby First tested positive with 71,47% GM maize.

The ACB also alleged there was a huge price discrepancy between baby foods that contain GM and those that don’t. They found that Purity’s cereals that contain GM are 250% more expensive than Nestlé’s baby cereal that shows only traces of GM content.

Purity is owned by food giant Tiger Brands. Its corporate affairs group executive, Alex Mathole, said in a statement: “Purity would like to reassure consumers that all Purity products are safe for human consumption and present no health risk to our consumers.

“In the case of yellow and white maize, the South African government has, after careful assessment and consideration, approved the commercial use of certain events [genetic material] under the GMO Act of 1997.

“Maize-based Purity products comply with this act and we are guided by results of internationally accepted objective scientific studies about the safety of products containing GM ingredients or those derived from GMOs.”

“However, Tiger Brands has undertaken an initiative to label all products that contain genetically modified material above a threshold of five percent and Purity maize based products will be labelled accordingly.

“On the pricing of our products, it is unclear how the author of the ACB report arrived at a 250% price difference.”

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