Traceability:

The ability to trace GM products along the entire food and feed supply chain

Traceability is legally mandated for food and feed consisting of or made from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This requirement is governed by EU regulation 1830/2003.

  • In the first phase of bringing a GMO derived product to the market, the producer is required to inform the purchaser that the shipment contains GM products. The respective GMO ID code must also be specified.
  • All documentation regarding GMOs must be retained and passed along at each stage of processing.
  • All stakeholders must devise a standardised system for retaining information. They must know where GM products were obtained from, and to whom the products were sold. All documentation must be retained for five years. 

A realiable system of information and documentation is a prerequisite to trustworthy labelling when GM content cannot be proven by analysing the final product.

As of 1 January 2005, traceability was made mandatory for all food and feed (even non-GM). The original producer must be identifiable from any point in the food and feed production chain (upstream tracing). Additionally, the entire route a product takes all the way down to the consumer must be accounted for (downstream tracing).

For facilitating proper documentation, each GMO is assigned an unique identification code when it is approved in the European Union. Of course, traceability does not solely rely on documentation. By biochemical means (PCR) even tiny traces of GMOs can be detected and identified - provided that suitable testing tools exist for the present GMO. Co-Extra develops methods for identifying several GMOs in one test, and for detecting even unknown or unexpected GMOs.


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