McDonald’s Europe to allow its suppliers to use GM chicken feed

By Yang Jing Source:Global Times Published: 2014-4-29 23:38:02

Customers dine inside a newly-opened McDonald's with Chinese-style interior design in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province, on April 18. Photo: Chu Daye/GT

McDonald's Europe will allow its suppliers to use genetically modified (GM) chicken feed from the second quarter of this year, media reports said Tuesday. Meanwhile, local experts said GM feed is widely and globally used.

McDonald's Europe promised in 2001 that it will not use GM chicken feed in European countries but it will end the restriction in April 2014, Shanghai-based newspaper China Business News reported Tuesday.

According to a statement from McDonald's Europe, the company explained that Brazil, its major poultry feed source, can no longer guarantee the supply of non-GM soy for chicken feed in sufficient quantities, news portal reported Tuesday.

The European Feed Manufacturers' Association estimated that 90 percent of all soy used in feedstuffs in Europe in 2013 was genetically modified and World Health Organization said GM feed has no effect on the quality or safety of meat, milk or eggs, cited the statement as saying.

McDonald's China did not answer whether it uses GM feed in Chinese market. Its fast-food rival KFC China also could not be reached for comment.

However, experts said GM feed is widely used in the poultry industry, including the Chinese market. 

GM feed has been widely used in China for many years, Wang Shiping, a professor from China Agricultural University, told the Global Times Tuesday.

Poultry feed is mainly made of soybean meal, which is soy residual after oil is extracted from the soybean, and China imported more than 60 million tons soybean in 2013, including a large amount of GM soybean, according to Wang. 

Wang said China allows GM soybean to be used as raw materials for manufacturing and that direct products such as soybean oil should be labeled, but he also said manufacturers and sellers may not label GM information or only use tiny labels to avoid worrying consumers.

The Chinese government released a regulation on GM product labeling in 2002, requiring seeds and products made from GM crops to be labeled, but poultry is an indirect product so it does not have to be labeled, China Business News reported. 

GM feed, not only soybean meal but also maize, is also widely used in the global poultry breeding industry, but it has not attracted public attention before as it is in the upper stream of the food supply chain, the report said. 

Zhou Yi, a 24-year-old Beijing resident who likes fast food, told the Global Times that she is not surprised to know about GM chicken feed. 

"It's fast food and it's cheap," she said. "How can you expect organic food when you only pay 15 yuan ($2.40) for a meal?" 

But she also believed that food should be labeled if there is GM feed in the supply chain.

China has returned over 1 million tons of maize imported from the US that contained an unapproved transgenic component, the country's leading quality watchdog announced on Tuesday.

The administration has asked entry-exit inspectors nationwide to strengthen their monitoring efforts and have allowed them to return or destroy any agricultural products with unapproved transgenic components.

Chinese authorities found 183 batches of substandard food imports from 27 countries and regions and six shipments of substandard cosmetics in March, and rejected them for the domestic market.

Xinhua contributed to this story

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