Ecology group chides Safeway

The Associated Press
Friday October 13, 2000

The Associated Press 


SAN FRANCISCO — One day after Safeway stores removed taco shells containing genetically altered corn from their shelves, an ecology group called on the company to do more to rid its aisles of foods the group claims are unfit for humans. 

Ellen Hickey, director of research for the Pesticide Action Network, chided Safeway Inc. on Thursday and displayed several boxes of the supermarket’s in-house brand taco shells that were found to contain StarLink biotech corn – the same ingredient that prompted a nationwide recall of taco shells Sept. 22 by Kraft Foods. 

“This discovery is further proof that StarLink corn has entered the human food supply and underscores the need for stronger government regulation of genetically engineered foods,” Hickey said. 

She called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to order a recall of Safeway’s taco shells, and for the supermarket chain to make a move away from stocking products containing any genetically engineered ingredients. 

Safeway ordered the taco shells removed from store shelves Wednesday after learning of test results that revealed the presence of the genetically engineered corn. StarLink corn hasn’t been approved for human consumption because of unresolved questions about whether it could cause allergic reactions in people. 

The corn is only allowed in animal feed. 

The Kraft and Safeway taco shells each contain the same variety of corn developed by Aventis CropScience. Safeway’s product was made by Mission Foods Co. of Irving, Texas. 

The supermarket chain had been assured by Mission Foods that StarLink corn was not in its taco shell products, according to Safeway spokesman Brian Dowling. 

“After this Kraft thing we had gone to Mission and asked them for some assurances that there were no issues related to StarLink and they assured us that there was not a problem,” Dowling said. “So this is a little puzzling to say the least.” 

Safeway would have further discussions with Mission Foods representatives Thursday, Dowling said. 

Safeway’s action applied to shells sold under both its private label and the Mission name. Customers who purchased the shells are being offered refunds. 

Pesticide Action Network is one of seven organizations that comprise Genetically Engineered Food Alert, a public-interest group that commissioned the independent tests on the taco shells. 

Pleasanton-based Safeway has 1,400 stores in the United States, primarily in the West.