At our OeTTINGER Brewery, the utmost importance is attached to product quality, the transparency of ingredients and the sustainable use of resources. For this, transparency and clear labeling are a must, as this offers security and builds confidence. For OeTTINGER, disclosing the ingredients and processing in the production chain is an important way of raising this confidence. Irrespective of the German Purity Law, there are also inestimable risks arising from the cultivation and use of genetically modified ingredients. For this reason, we have decided to adopt a clear, accountable and transparent position on this issue. Our entire beer range has displayed the “GMO-free” label since 2013.
Moreover, we are the first brewery to join the Association of Food without Genetic Engineering e.V. (Verband Lebensmittel ohne Gentechnik e.V. – VLOG). Therefore, OeTTINGER clearly and unequivocally guarantees its consumers that it not only demands the most exacting quality requirements with regard to all steps of the brewing process, but also that not a single trace of genetically modified material can be found in the products coming from our suppliers.
GMO-FREE AND THE “GMO-FREE” LABEL
Background to the “GMO-free” label
The “GMO-free” label was introduced in 2008 by the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection. The VLOG has issued the standardized label since 2009. The conditions upon which the label is awarded are enshrined in the EC Genetic Engineering Implementation Act. Products that carry the “GMO-free” label are not permitted to contain even the merest trace of material from genetically modified plants or micro-organisms. The seal is a green diamond with the white inscription “Ohne Gentechnik”, which means GMO-free.
Does this change the taste?
No, of course not! Neither the recipes nor the raw materials are changed. This certification simply confirms that the raw materials we use are free from genetic engineering.
Why did OeTTINGER decide to display this label?
We demand incredibly high standards in terms of quality assurance. In the interests of our customers, in 2013, we decided to take this far-reaching step in order to show that we really care about high quality and transparency in production processes – from raw material to end product. With this, our aim is to further reinforce the confidence that our customers place in us. We regard the introduction of the label in this industry as an active progression of the traditional German Purity Law.
How do consumers benefit from the new label?
All those who are interested in sustainably manufactured foodstuffs and who pay closer attention to ingredients can trust in our beers. This label means that we can assure all of our customers that our range of beers does not contain even the slightest trace of genetically modified raw materials.
What conditions have to be met in order to display the “GMO-free” label?
To use the seal, the VLOG, and therefore also the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, set extremely stringent requirements enshrined in the EC Genetic Engineering Implementation Act. Evidence and analysis reports have to be provided and documented on a regular basis to ensure continuous quality control and guarantee that products are GMO-free. These include mandatory statements from suppliers that their raw materials have not been genetically modified or contaminated by cross-contamination. Independent institutes regularly take samples to check the quality of the raw materials used. The scrupulous quality control system guarantees that the requirements for labeling are met. An independent certification institution (LACON GmbH) monitors compliance of the process chain in line with the applicable legal regulations.
Is the German Purity Law not enough in itself?
Beer is generally regarded in Germany as being the “cleanest” of foods. However, in light of increasing globalization, the absolute purity of the raw materials is no longer a matter of course. It is impossible to rule out from the outset the possibility of contamination and cross-contamination. The Purity Law only covers the point “GMO-free” within the parameters which it measures. This isn’t enough for us – the limits are too high. This is why we regard the introduction of the seal as the active continuation of the traditional German Purity Law.
For which raw materials is there a risk of cross-contamination?
Up to now, genetically modified barley has not been approved anywhere in the world for the production of beer, although the number of field trials for all types of grain has risen steadily in recent years. Nobody can prevent genetically modified material from being carried in the form of pollen drift to other types of grain. Impurities can’t therefore be ruled out in advance. Moreover, there are already research projects in progress for genetically modified yeast, while the use of enzymes is commonplace in beers produced abroad. They are often produced using genetically modified micro-organisms – without needing to indicate this on the label. In the same way, beers from abroad can use materials other than just barley and wheat in the brewing process, especially maize or rice.
Are all OeTTINGER products now GMO-free?
Since 2013, the entire OeTTINGER beer range has met the stringent requirements of the “GMO-free” label. Beer-mix drinks and malt beers are not yet included in the GMO-free range, as our sugar and sweetener suppliers cannot currently provide a guarantee that their products are GMO-free.
Does this step reflect OeTTINGER’s understanding of sustainability?
As a family-owned company, we have always regarded ourselves as being sustainable and therefore attach great importance to protecting our natural environment and using resources sparingly. We think long-term, rather than just to the next quarterly balance sheet. And when it comes to sustainability, we really do have lots to shout about!