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FDA Lists Items Made With Altered Corn

Food: Nearly 300 products were recalled nationwide because of suspected contamination.

November 02, 2000|From Reuters

Nearly 300 kinds of taco shells, tortillas, chips and tostadas were recalled from grocery stores and restaurants because of suspected contamination with a biotech corn not approved for human consumption, the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.

In the most detailed list published to date, the FDA identified all foods recalled by Mission Foods, a unit of Mexican company Gruma, which has been hit hard by the discovery of StarLink corn in its food products.

The firm makes a variety of foods containing corn flour that are sold under U.S. grocery store brands, as well as to restaurants. Mission initiated a voluntary recall Oct. 13, but did not make public at that time the names of all products recalled.

The FDA said the recalled taco shells, tortillas and chips included those served at restaurants such as Applebee's, Wendy's, Del Taco, Casa Solana and La Cantina.

The list of Mission's recalled products also included many grocery store private-label brands. They are Best Buy, Brookshires, Kroger, Food Lion, Fred Meyer, Kash-n-Karry, Rich Food, Shurfine, IGA, Albertson's, Safeway, Vons, Bueno Comida, Food City, Sack'n Save and Wal-Mart Stores. Environmental activists who oppose biotech foods said they were surprised at how many Mission foods were recalled.

"We had no idea of the scope of this," said Matt Rand, a spokesman for the Genetically Engineered Food Alert, a coalition of "green" groups. "This shows how widespread the StarLink problem is."

Since StarLink was detected in human food six weeks ago, the gene-spliced variety of yellow corn has unleashed turmoil in the U.S. food industry, triggered widespread testing and strained relations with big corn importers such as Japan.

StarLink was approved in 1998 by the Environmental Protection Agency for use only in animal feed because of concerns about allergic reactions in some people.

EPA officials this week launched a monthlong review of StarLink scientific data to decide whether to grant temporary approval to it until all the contaminated corn is used up. The EPA regulates StarLink because it is genetically engineered to act as a pesticide to protect young corn plants.

The food industry and StarLink maker Aventis have said that new scientific data show there is no health risk from the corn.

The FDA list of recalled foods was published as part of the agency's routine weekly enforcement report. The agency published a similar list last month outlining less than a half a dozen taco products recalled by Kraft Foods for the same reason.

Some grocery stores that purchased Mission taco products issued their own notices during the last two weeks to alert consumers that store-label products had been recalled.

StarLink was grown on only about 1% of U.S. corn fields this year, but experts say the variety was accidentally commingled with other corn by farmers and grain elevators.

Last week the government said it had located about 90% of this year's crop, but about 1.2 million bushels of StarLink had yet to be accounted for.

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