Tesco: An update on poultry feed


See below Tesco Food News update on pultry feed by Tim J Smith

An update on poultry feed

11thApr, 2013
Tim J Smith, Tesco group technical director: 
Customers sometimes ask us about the use of genetically modified (GM) ingredients in poultry feed.
We have answered with a guarantee that our own-label fresh and frozen poultry and eggs are only fed non-GM feed and we wrote it into the contracts we have with our poultry and egg suppliers.
Over recent weeks UK poultry and egg suppliers have been telling retailers that it is increasingly difficult for them to guarantee that the feed they use is entirely GM free, for two reasons.
First, soya is the best source of protein to feed livestock. And as soya producers are increasingly turning to GM soya, it means they are producing less non-GM soya, so there simply isn’t enough non-GM feed available. It is a global supply issue – 80 per cent of the world’s soya is now modified. Farmers across the world choose to grow modified soya for a number of reasons, but usually because modified crops are more resistant to certain pests and diseases.
Second, because so much soya is modified and because of the way crops are planted, processed and transported, it is possible that non-GM soya crops contain low levels of GM soya. The new DNA testing regime we have put in place has identified that the risk of finding GM material in non-GM feed is increasing.
We could not continue with a promise we cannot be sure it is possible to keep and we want to be upfront about the changes we are making.
This does not mean that the poultry and eggs we sell will be genetically modified in any way, just an ingredient in the feed which they eat. The meat from a chicken fed on modified soya feed is no different to the meat of a chicken fed on non-GM feed.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is clear that DNA from modified soya is not present in the meat of animals fed on it, nor in animal products such as eggs or milk. Genetic modification affects only the crop used in the feed.
And the FSA is also clear that there is absolutely no risk to health from eating meat from animals that have been fed GM feed. Indeed, meat products from animals fed on GM crops have been a standard part of many supermarket ranges for some time.
We want to be clear with customers about food and that’s why we’re removing the GM-free guarantee for poultry and eggs. We are not the first UK supermarket to reach the conclusion that a non-GM policy on poultry feed is unsustainable, and we won’t be the last. Asda and Morrisons already allow GM feed for poultry products, and our suppliers also work with other UK retailers.
What does this mean for you and your food? It will not have any impact on the safety and quality of the food or its taste. As a food retailer, nothing is more important to us than the safety of the food we sell. Modification does not have any effect on the animal that consumes it, or the person who eats the animal. So the feed our suppliers use for our own-brand ranges can no longer have a GM-free guarantee. We do make one clear exception: that our organic meat will continue to be fed non-GM feed. This means our customers will still be able to purchase chicken and other poultry products that have not been fed on GM feed if that is their preference.
We’ve set out some more information on our position on GM feed here, while the Food Standards Authority website has information on GM that might be of interest.
If you have questions on our position on GM that you would like us to answer, or just want to tell us your view, please email customer.service@tesco.co.uk
Read this update on Tesco website

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