<< see all current actions

10 Second Action - Tesco, GM cereal and children

Tell Tesco it is not acceptable to market GM foods to children


13 Sep 2013

Tesco's "most Senior Manager" misrepresents FSA position

A number of people have helpfully sent in copies of responses they have received from Tesco that include the following statement (or something close to it):

"The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is clear that DNA from modified soya is not present in the meat of animals fed on it, nor in animal products such as eggs or milk. Genetic modification affects only the crop used in the feed."

This is simply not true. It is especially disturbing that one person who challenged this statement received a reply that said, "I have looked in to the issue with regards to the FSA advice and can advise that we have received the information from our most Senior Manager in our Head Office and therefore would be unable to provide you with any further information."

If you received a message from Tesco misrepresenting the FSA's advice on GM animal feed please write back saying:

The FSA admits officially:

"It is therefore possible that DNA fragments derived from GM plant materials may occasionally be detected in animal tissues" (see http://www.food.gov.uk/policy-advice/gm/gmanimal#.Uh9GvIUTlOE)

I would like to ask:

- Why is Tesco misrepresenting the FSA position in this way?

- What is the scientific basis for the statement "GM only affects the crop used in the feed" when there is a mountain of evidence of harm to wildlife like Monarch Butterflies and invertibrates, weeds that now have resistance to Roundup and the fact that the US corn crop is now being destroyed by GM resistant bollworm?

- How does Tesco know that the GM DNA fragments that even the FSA admits pass into the tissue of creatures that eat GMOs are harmless? What science are they relying on to make this determination? Will Tesco take responsibility for any health problems that arise?

- Why does Tesco find it acceptable to permit GM contamination of non-GM supplies against the clear wishes of its customers rather than ordering and requiring non-GM and expecting the GM industry to undertake appropriate segregation systems to ensure large customers like Tesco get what they pay for?

You might also like to ask for answers to the questions originally put, which were not about animal feed but GM cereal.


What you can do

Tell Tesco it is unacceptable to market GM foods to children and that you do not want to see GM foods sold in the UK, including meat, milk and eggs from animals reared on GM feed. You can contact Tesco a number of ways:

  1. Email Tesco customer services by sending the message below - you can alter the message to say what you like
  2. Email Tesco customer services independently at customer.service@tesco.co.uk - you can cut and paste the email points below or write your own
  3. Telephone Tesco at 0800 505 555 (or 0845 7225533 for groceries dept)
  4. Contact Tesco via Twitter using @UKTesco (or retweet GMF tweets)
  5. Email Tesco CEO Philip Clarke at ceo.customerservice@tesco.co.uk or philip.clarke@uk.tesco.com

Many thanks for your help.

For those with more time, other recommended actions include:

  • Take many boxes of the product to the check out and refuse to buy them, explaining why to the store manager
  • Leave a card in the on-shelf display alerting other shoppers to the fact that the product contains GM ingredients (a template is available here)
  • Write to your local Tesco manager and Tesco HQ telling them you do not want to see GM ingredients on shelves.
  • Write to General Mills and tell the company that as you wish to avoid buying and eating GMOs you will be unable to consider buying Lucky Charms cereal until the company states clearly no packets contain any GMOs. The address to use is: General Mills UK Ltd, 1 George Street, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 1QQ

If you see these items or others containing GM at UK shops, it would really help if you could let us know by emailing info@gmfeeze.org with shop name and location, date and item containing GM so we can add it to our small list of identified GM products.

Points to include:

  • I am very concerned to hear that Tesco is selling General Mills Lucky Charms cereal that contains GM ingredients. I further understand from the 24 August Daily Mail article that the product is prominently displayed and is "extremely attractive to little kids".
  • I believe it is unacceptable to market GM foods to children. The fact that the item is labelled in accordance with the law is not a sufficient response to this concern.
  • I do not want to see GM foods on supermarket shelves, including meat, milk and eggs from animals reared on GM feed.
  • I would welcome your assurance that you are working toward the genuinely non-GM products I want to buy across your whole range and will remove this product from shelves.

Send your email now

Your email will be sent to customer.service@tesco.co.uk as soon as you press send.


(GM Freeze will never share your data with anyone else)

(This will send immediately, so please check your text before pressing!)


Background to this action

On 24 August the Daily Mail published a story "On sale in Tesco, GM cereal that makes children hyperactive: US import of Lucky  Charms contain artificial colours that UK watchdog urges manufacturers to avoid".

The article states that in addition to containing GM ingredients, "Potentially more alarming is the fact that the cereal contains a number of artificial colours that the Food Standards Agency urges manufacturers not to use because research found a possible association with hyperactivity in young children." Quoting a shopper in
London the story says, "[T]he cereal was on prominent display at the local Tesco and is sold in a packet that is ‘extremely attractive to little kids'."

Finally the story reports a statement from Tesco saying, "The product ingredients are clearly labelled and are in line with relevant legislation." This is true, but a correctly labelled GM product marketed at children is still a GM product marketed at children, and we think Tesco should be challenged on this to demonstrate both that we noticed the GM product on sale and that we want it removed from shelves.

Please send the message above today to tell Tesco you don't want GM foods on supermarket shelves, and you certainly don't want children used to try to lever GM ingredients into our homes.

Many of you will recall that in 2009 Tesco sold Hershey's Nutrageous chocolate bars labelled as containing GM soya, sugar and corn. At that time we asked people to write to Tesco about this. If you see any Hershey's Nutrageous bars or Lucky Charms labelled as containing GM still on sale in the UK please email info@gmfreeze.org (and if you can send us a picture of the GM label that would be great). Thank you.

All previous updates

30 Aug 2013

More GM products: Tesco.com and beyond

Many thanks to everyone who took the time to take action and/or offer us more information about more GM children's foods sold by Tesco. We are now asking for additional action to be taken to address this problem.

So far Tesco is sending out two types of replies to emails:

1) A standard letter outlining the company's policy on GM animal feed. If you received this letter, please simply reply to Tesco stating that this in no way answers your concern about marketing GM foods to children and restating your original questions.

2) A short standard letter that says, "We have a selection of products imported from America in our stores after customers told us they wanted to be able to buy them. Whenever GM ingredients are used this has to be stated on the packaging and then customers can choose whether or not to buy them. All Tesco own brand products are free from GM ingredients." If you received this letter, please respond asking the questions below.

In addition GM Freeze is now aware that the problem is more widespread, and this raises a series of new concerns. Tesco.com is currently offering four different Lucky Charms products, two labelled as containing GM and two not GM:

Not labelled as GM:
- Lucky Charms cereal (red box, a GM version of this product featured in the Daily Mail story - see www.tesco.com/groceries/Product/Details/?id=273824949)

- Lucky Charms snack cup (see www.tesco.com/groceries/Product/Details/?id=273824074)

Labelled as GM:
- Lucky Charms snack bar (see www.tesco.com/groceries/Product/Details/?id=274769517)

- Lucky Charms chocolate variety cereal (brown box, see www.tesco.com/groceries/Product/Details/?id=274748289)

Please help us address this by asking Tesco these questions (you can do this as your first action or after you receive one of the replies described above):

- Is it Tesco's position that its customers asked the company to stock GM foods? As there are clearly GM and non-GM varieties of Lucky Charms available, why did Tesco source the GM variety, which is not in keeping with the non-GM policy it applies to its own-brand products?
- How does Tesco ensure online shoppers ordering Lucky Charms cereal, which does not show GM ingredients, do not receive a GM product? How is their choice to avoid GM guaranteed given the company is selling both GM and non-GM versions?
- Noting that Tesco.com is selling two other GM products in the Lucky Charms range, when will Tesco remove these from sale and source the non-GM alternatives?
- What other name brand products is Tesco selling, either in stores or online, that contain GM ingredients?

Remember: Tesco is not doing anything illegal as far as we can tell as GM labelling laws are being followed. Our concerns focus on the presence of any GM products on UK supermarket shelves and the marketing of GM products to children.

Finally we understand that other UK supermarkets also sell GM Lucky Charms (and other GM products):

1) Ocado sells both red and brown box Lucky Charms cereal, with the brown box chocolate variety labelled as containing GM (see www.ocado.com/webshop/product/Lucky-Charms-Chocolate/64521011?from=search&tags&param=lucky+charms&parentContainer=SEARCHlucky+charms_SHELFVIEW)

2) Selfridges sells the non-GM red box cereal (NB: the site does not list the standard warning about the colourings used - see www.selfridges.com/en/Food-Wine/Categories/Shop-Food/American/General-Mills-Lucky-Charms-453g_554-85422843-332/?ddkey=http%3ASearch&freeText=lucky+charms&msg=MSG_SEARCH_ONE_MATCHING_PRODUCT&shouldCachePage=true). However Selfridges does sell other GM labelled products in its "American" food section.

If in doubt READ THE LABEL. We will now undertake a review of available information in supermarket online stores and add the GM products we find to our list at http://www.gmfreeze.org/actions/5/. Please send information about any examples you find to us so we can add them to the list. Thank you.

02 Sep 2013

GM Lucky Charms now "unavailable" at Tesco.com?

Over the weekend, and before we had a chance to press "send" on Friday's action update (see below) Tesco changed its website.

Tesco.com now lists GM as an ingredient in the red box cereal (see http://www.tesco.com/groceries/Product/Details/?id=273824949), but it also says, "This product is currently unavailable."

The GM bars and brown box cereal are still available.

Keep writing, things are moving fast. Updates questions are now:

- Is it Tesco's position that its customers asked the company to stock GM foods? As there are clearly GM and non-GM varieties of Lucky Charms products available, why did Tesco source the GM variety, which is not in keeping with the non-GM policy it applies to its own-brand products?
- Noting that Tesco.com is selling two other GM products in the Lucky Charms range, when will Tesco remove these from sale and source non-GM alternatives?
- What other name brand products is Tesco selling, either in stores or online, that contain GM ingredients?

13 Sep 2013

Tesco's "most Senior Manager" misrepresents FSA position

A number of people have helpfully sent in copies of responses they have received from Tesco that include the following statement (or something close to it):

"The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is clear that DNA from modified soya is not present in the meat of animals fed on it, nor in animal products such as eggs or milk. Genetic modification affects only the crop used in the feed."

This is simply not true. It is especially disturbing that one person who challenged this statement received a reply that said, "I have looked in to the issue with regards to the FSA advice and can advise that we have received the information from our most Senior Manager in our Head Office and therefore would be unable to provide you with any further information."

If you received a message from Tesco misrepresenting the FSA's advice on GM animal feed please write back saying:

The FSA admits officially:

"It is therefore possible that DNA fragments derived from GM plant materials may occasionally be detected in animal tissues" (see http://www.food.gov.uk/policy-advice/gm/gmanimal#.Uh9GvIUTlOE)

I would like to ask:

- Why is Tesco misrepresenting the FSA position in this way?

- What is the scientific basis for the statement "GM only affects the crop used in the feed" when there is a mountain of evidence of harm to wildlife like Monarch Butterflies and invertibrates, weeds that now have resistance to Roundup and the fact that the US corn crop is now being destroyed by GM resistant bollworm?

- How does Tesco know that the GM DNA fragments that even the FSA admits pass into the tissue of creatures that eat GMOs are harmless? What science are they relying on to make this determination? Will Tesco take responsibility for any health problems that arise?

- Why does Tesco find it acceptable to permit GM contamination of non-GM supplies against the clear wishes of its customers rather than ordering and requiring non-GM and expecting the GM industry to undertake appropriate segregation systems to ensure large customers like Tesco get what they pay for?

You might also like to ask for answers to the questions originally put, which were not about animal feed but GM cereal.