The company, part of the Lantmännen group, develops, produces and markets primarily grain-based ingredients such as flour, flour mixes, grains, and muesli for bakery and food manufacturers and also serves the food service and retail market.
Anna Johansson, communications manager with Lantmännen Cerealia, told Bakeryandsnacks.com that the firm was told about the discovery of the GM traces in a batch of its crush linseed by Finnish custom officials last month but that its own EU standardized testing method did not reveal the presence of any such GM traces in the seeds.
“We were also assured by our Russian supplier that tests it ran on the crushed linseed showed it was GM free,” she continued.
Johansson said that Sweden’s National Food Administration, on the basis of information it had received from the Finnish customs, requested that Lantmännen withdraw the linseed product from sale.
She stressed that the crushed linseed in question was only sold to retailers, and not distributed to bakeries or the food industry.
Linseed is increasingly used as an ingredient in baked goods such as muffins and in muesli, is highly valued because of its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
The EU Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) has reported finding an unapproved genetically modified flax/linseed variety FP967 (CDC Triffid) in cereal and bakery products in over 30 countries since an initial discovery in Germany in September 2009.
The GM variety is not authorised for food or feed use in the EU, meaning that any food product or flax/linseed derivative analysed to be positive for FP967 is not marketable in the EU and zero tolerance applies.
GM flax development
The flax variety FP967 (later known as Triffid) was developed by the University of Saskatchewan in Canada and was authorised for commercial use in both Canada and the US in the late 1990s but concerns about the European export market meant Triffid certified seed was never sold for commercial production.
By 2001 Triffid was de-registered and it was thought that all known stocks had been identified and destroyed.
Canada is the world's leader in the production and export of flax, and currently supplies around 50 per cent of the EU’s linseed requirements.