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3-Food: Burger King Portugal franchisee bans GMOs

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TITLE:   Burger King Portugal franchisee bans GMOs
SOURCE:  Reuters, by David Brough
DATE:    April 7, 1999


LISBON, April 7 (Reuters) - Burger King's franchisee in Portugal has banned genetically modified (GM) ingredients at its fast-food outlets because it was concerned over possible health risks, a spokesman said on Wednesday. "We do not accept any genetically modified ingredients in any of the foods or components that we sell, including ketchups, oils and mayonnaise," Jorge Morgado told Reuters. We have sent letters to our suppliers, demanding written guarantees that they do not use GMOs (genetically modified organisms)," he added in a telephone interview. "It is a cat and mouse game. It is not easy. You have to pester suppliers to make sure they are complying."

The Burger King franchisee, which has 12 fast-food outlets across Portugal, took the decision to ban GM ingredients late last year. Britain's Diageo Plc owns the Burger King brand. Morgado said the franchisee, a group of privately owned Portuguese companies, rejected the use of GM ingredients because it believed that food safety controls on GM products needed to be more stringent. "People are trying to play God, changing products around," he said. "The testing period for GM products is too short." The exact risks, if any, posed by high-yield GM crops are not known. Critics say they fear GM seeds could affect human health and hurt the environment via cross-pollination.

In Britain, some food retailers, such as Iceland Group, have imposed bans on the sale of genetically modified products as shoppers shunned what the press has dubbed "Frankenstein foods." Last month Britain ordered restaurants and fast-food outlets to tell consumers if their products contained GM ingredients. Morgado criticised what he called inconsistencies in EU regulations governing labelling of GM products. "If a soyburger contains soybean protein, you have to label it," he said. "But if you are selling a product that contains soybean oil, you do not have to label it. So you could be eating a mayonnaise with soybean oil in it that has been genetically modified, but with no reference to that on the packet." Morgado said the Burger King franchisee was not planning to tell consumers in Portugal that it was selling food free of genetically modified ingredients. "There is no point in raising the point to the consumer and raising the panic level," he said. No other fast-food chai!
n or food retailer in Portugal is known to have banned GM ingredients.


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