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Monday, September 13, 1999 Published at 07:36 GMT 08:36 UK


Restaurants set to miss GM deadline

All food outlets must label GM soya or GM maize

More than half of the UK's food outlets are unaware of next week's deadline for labelling genetically-modified (GM) ingredients, according to a BBC survey.

From next Monday, all pubs, restaurants and takeaways are bound by law to alert customers if their food contains GM soya or GM maize.

Food under the microscope
The new regulations were announced in March, but the government gave food businesses six months to make the necessary changes.

The BBC's Julie Etchingham: "Many food outlets are unaware of the regulations"
Now a survey for BBC One's Breakfast News has found that of 262 food outlets across the country, only 53% said they were aware of the deadline.

The report also found that only 45% said they would be ready to comply with the new regulations in time

Only 17% said they had received enough information about the new rules and 57% had had none at all.

GM bans

Local authorities have the responsibility to enforce the laws, but many have privately said they cannot afford to do so.

Enforcement would involve trading standards officers taking food samples and conducting laboratory tests to see if they contain GM ingredients, as well as checking paperwork.

Cambridgeshire County Council said last week that it was introducing a total ban on GM food to avoid the cost of labelling every school menu.

Huge demand

Similarly, many of the larger fast-food chains have banned GM ingredients so they do not have to reprint their menu.

The labelling regulations came in an EU directive, but Britain is the only country to have carried them out so far.

The government says this is in response to huge consumer demand.

Food Safety Minister Baroness Hayman told BBC One's Breakfast News that the scheme would be a success.

"This is something new...but we are actually enhancing the information that consumers will have," she said.

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