Inghams advertisements are misleading the public by claiming that their chicken products have no genetically modified ingredients, according to the Soil & Health Association of NZ.
“Inghams are taking huge advantage of consumer resistance to GE foods by making GM free claims in television and print advertising, yet hidden well away on their website in their GM Policy(1), they argue for their use of GE soy in chicken feed,” said Soil & Health spokesperson Steffan Browning.
“Soil & Health and Inghams both know that surveys show most consumers remain opposed to genetic engineering, whether in plants, animals, food or the environment. Consumers also prefer 100% New Zealand produced food with no added hormones or artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.”
“Chickens fed on genetically engineered soy or maize do not meet those consumers expectations and the Commerce Commission needs to act quickly against Inghams. Inghams chickens are fed with GE soy at least and Inghams marketing varies from directly false to blatantly misleading.”
“Inghams bagged chicken advertisements strongly emphasise 100% New Zealand chicken along with no GM ingredients, added hormones, artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. The advertisements for Inghams processed products such as Kiev, Kebabs, Fillets Nuggets, Chipees, and Burger Patties also proudly proclaim 100% New Zealand chicken, and free of GM and various additives. However Inghams are again mischievously misleading, with each product still containing some other artificial additive.”
“Inghams are also allowing Greenpeace supporters to be misled as the Greenpeace GE Free Food Guide, with its traffic light colour coding, has Inghams chicken in the ‘Orange CHANGING’ section due to Inghams’ previous statements.”
Greenpeace states; “Companies in the Orange section have committed to removing GE crop derived ingredients from their products and are in the process of doing so.
Greenpeace quotes from Inghams August 2007 website policy statement;
“Inghams is committed to continuing to source non-GM ingredients for its poultry products. We will use our best endeavours to source non-GM ingredients for poultry feeds - such raw materials must meet our quality standards, be available in substantial quantities and be economically sustainable. Our policy also includes a commitment to our customers that they would always be advised before any changes to the above.”
“Inghams, on the contrary, have shown no commitment since they indicated a move to GE free feed some years back, nor have Inghams advised their customers that they are still using GE soy for their manufacturing of poultry food. Inghams is Australasia’s largest stockfood manufacturer, and some of their fellow chicken or egg producer customers are listed in Greenpeace’s Red ‘MAY CONTAIN GE’ section. The Greenpeace guide quotes:
“Brinks Chicken policy:
NB: Brinks chicken use Inghams feed which has tested positive for containing soy that is 85 percent GE contaminated. – 2003
Mainland Poultry policy:
"Our feed continues to be manufactured from GE soy as we have not been able to source a viable non-GE alternative to date. We continue to investigate this option on an ongoing basis." May 2007”
Have Inghams forgotten? No. Inghams direct consumers with GE questions to their website, but appear to be cheating in their advertising. Inghams are likely to be no more serious than Mainland Poultry with its ongoing investigation of a non-GE alternative or Brinks Chicken 2003 use of Inghams feed containing 85% GE contaminated soy.
“Like organic poultry producers, Inghams and their feed customers could all be GE free, but are continuing to take a cheap easy option, with Inghams going further and blatantly misleading well intentioned consumers,” said Mr Browning.
Inghams Genetic Modification (GM) Policy begins, “Inghams Enterprises have a clear GM position. As is the case with all Inghams products, our chickens contain no GM content and are not genetically modified”… and later Inghams continue… “The use of GM Soya in feed does not compromise the absolute GM-free status of the poultry products the company produces. Animals that eat feed with a component of GM Soya are no different to other animals that may have been fed a low GM or GM-free diet. This position is verified by numerous feeding studies:”
“Not only does Inghams advertising misleading but its own policy contradicts itself, stating that all Inghams products, chickens included ‘contain no GM content…’ Rather an unusual statement considering the chickens are eating GE food and more recent GE feeding studies show the transfer of DNA into the gut of animals,” said Mr Browning.
“Inghams use dated reports suggesting that GE soy is equivalent to conventional soy, yet feeding studies have consistently shown differences for GE foodstuffs, soy included. One reference by Federation of Animal Science Societies, a pro GE industry organisation shows its bias on its website, “Consumers should appreciate that absolute safety is not the objective with respect to any approach used to evaluate complex substances such as food.””
On finding Inghams use of GE feed, consumers will be further confused when reading the Ingham philosophy, vision, and mission. As Inghams word it:
“Quite simply the Inghams philosophy is,
"Doing the right things and doing things right"
Our Vision: To be Australasia's first choice for poultry products, recognised for brand excellence, a commitment to its employees, food safety, the environment and innovation.
Our Mission: To be responsive to customer and community needs and to provide trusted quality food products to fit today's changing lifestyles at a competitive price.”
“Soil & Health struggles to see how Inghams is doing the right things or doing things right, how it can be recognised for brand excellence, how it shows commitment to food safety and the environment, or how it is providing trusted quality food. Inghams are misleading consumers and have not seriously tried to go GE free.”
“As Inghams also currently exports its feed to South Pacific countries, it is spreading its GE contaminated feed wider. Do the consumers elsewhere in the Pacific know what is in their chicken feed?”
Soil & Health has a motto of Healthy Soil, Healthy Food, Healthy People, and promotes an environment and diet free from GE and synthetic additives.
GE and GM are used interchangeably for this media release. Soil & Health prefers the term GE (genetic engineering) believing that GM (genetic modification) is a misused term that could also include natural breeding techniques including hybridisation.
Inghams GM Policy NZ
Inghams Enterprises have a clear GM position. As is the case with all Inghams products, our chickens contain no GM content and are not genetically modified.
Inghams GM policy is based on good science, healthy chickens and sustainable practices that benefit both our customers and suppliers, while creating net social and environmental benefits.
Inghams is committed to continuing to source non-GM ingredients for it's poultry products. We will use our best endeavours to source non-GM ingredients for poultry feeds - such raw materials must meet our quality standards, be available in substantial quantities and be economically sustainable.
Our policy also includes a commitment to our customers that they would always be advised before any changes to the above.
Inghams abides by all regulations in Australia and New Zealand, regarding food safety, labelling and packaging. It has food safety procedures in place to ensure the integrity of all its non-GM ingredients and monitors suppliers to ensure that this high level of integrity is maintained.
The use of GM Soya in feed does not compromise the absolute GM-free status of the poultry products the company produces. Animals that eat feed with a component of GM Soya are no different to other animals that may have been fed a low GM or GM-free diet. This position is verified by numerous feeding studies:
(i) "NZ Royal Commission Report & Recommendations (2001)"
(ii) "Federation of Animal Science Societies (2000) FASS Facts, On Biotech Crops - Impact on Meat, Milk and Eggs. Savoy IL"
(iii) "The Royal Society (2002) Genetically modified plants for food use and human health - an update. Policy document 4/02 (February)"
Inghams understands that there is considerable community interest in the uses of genetic modification and we believe it is important to keep customers informed or our policies and relevant facts.