United States Mission to the European Union
Foreign Agricultural Service
United States Department Of Agriculture
Last modified: January 12, 2017

Labeling of genetically modified products

Labeling regulations for genetically modified (GM) food products are established by Regulation 1829/2003 (articles 12-13).  These rules apply to products that have undergone varying degrees of processing.  The regulation does not require labeling of food products that are not food ingredients, such as processing aids.  Meat, milk or eggs obtained from animals fed with GM feed or treated with GM medicinal products do not require GM labeling.  EU-harmonized legislation defining “non-GM”, ‘GM-free” or similar labeling terms does not (yet) exist.

The traceability rules require all business operators to transmit and retain information on GM products in order to identify both the supplier and the buyer of the GM product.

Each individual genetically modified organism (GMO) must be approved before it can be used in food and feed.  All food products containing or consisting of GMOs, produced from GMOs or containing ingredients produced from GMOs must be labeled even if they no longer contain detectable traces of GMOs.  The labeling requirement does not apply to foods containing GMOs in a proportion equal to or less than 0.9 percent of the food ingredients considered individually, provided their presence is adventitious or technically unavoidable.  Above this level, all products must be labeled using the following wording:

– Where the food consists of more than one ingredient, the words “genetically modified” or “produced from genetically modified [name of ingredient]” must follow in brackets immediately after the ingredient concerned.  A compound ingredient with a GM component should be labeled “contains [name of ingredient] produced from genetically modified [name of organism]”.

Example: a biscuit containing soy flour derived from GM-soy must be labeled “contains soy flour from genetically modified soy”.

– Where the ingredient is designated by the name of a category (e.g. vegetable oil), the words “contains genetically modified [name of organism]” or “contains [name of ingredient] produced from genetically modified [name of organism]” must be used.

Example: for vegetable oils containing rapeseed oil produced from genetically modified rapeseed, the reference “contains rapeseed oil from genetically modified rapeseed” must appear in the list of ingredients.

The designations may appear in a footnote to the ingredients list, provided they are printed in a font at least the same size as that of the list of ingredients or, where there is no list of ingredients, clearly on the labeling.

– Where there is no list of ingredients, the words “genetically modified” or “produced from genetically modified [name of ingredient]” must appear clearly in the labeling.

Example 1: “a spirit containing caramel produced from genetically modified corn”.

Example 2: “genetically modified sweet corn”.