ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Marketers are avoiding the "GMO-free" labeling controversy by focusing on ingredients, rather than the product as a whole, according to products featured at the Natural Products Expo West here last month.
Due to the concern over possible risks to humans from eating genetically modified foods or ingredients, many companies have used "GMO-free" (GMO meaning genetically modified organisms) on food packages. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration maintains that using "GMO-free" is misleading. It has already reprimanded several companies that have used such labeling on food products. And just last month, Lester Crawford, deputy commissioner, FDA, in an appearance before the House Appropriations Committee's agriculture subcommittee, said foods supposedly free of genetically modified organisms must be tested by manufacturers and checked periodically by federal inspectors to ensure they are GMO-free.
Attendees interviewed at the show, produced by New Hope Natural Media, said they were unsure what criteria is required to make the "GMO-free" statement acceptable. So instead, many are using limited claims.
For example, the Pittsburgh-based NuGo Nutrition to Go family of nutrition bars will be labeled as containing "Non-GMO Corn and Soy."
Morinaga Nutritional Products, Torrance, Calif., proclaims that its soy-based Mori-Nu soups are made from "Non-GMO" ingredients. The soup comes in four flavors: Creamy Butternut Squash, Corn, Garden Pea and Tomato.
New England Harvest Natural Hi-Protein Whole Wheat Pasta is identified as "Vegan" and "Fortified with Non-GMO Soy Protein Made with Organic Flour." It also carries a heart symbol, with the statement "May reduce the risk of heart disease." This line is from the Boston Pasta Co., Carrollton, Texas.
Tumaro's, Los Angeles, backs up the "Made with Non-GMO Corn" statement that's printed on the front of packages for its Gourmet Snacks Krispy Crunchy Puffs, with "Our suppliers have certified that the corn in this product is grown and processed without genetic modification" printed on the back.
Labeling for Almond Breeze, an alternative beverage from Blue Diamond Growers, Sacramento, Calif., says it is "a mild tasting, slightly nutty, refreshing, and creamy alternative to rice, oat, and soy-only beverages" and contains "non-GMO almonds and soybeans."
Organic Food Bar from Bio International of Fullerton, Calif., on the other hand, refers to "No refined sugars or GMOs." The label on these bars goes further with the statement: "Contains no genetically modified, engineered or altered foods."