Safeway Taco Shells Contain Illegal, Likely Allergenic
Variety of Bt Corn

Illegal, Likely Allergenic Genetically Engineered Corn Found in Safeway
Supermarket Corn Taco Shells
For Immediate Release
October 11, 2000
Contact: Amanda Gordon, NET, 202-887-8831
Larry Bohlen, FoE, 202-783-7400 x251
Ronnie Cummins, Organic Consumers Association, 218-226-4164

Genetically Engineered Contaminant Found in Safeway Brand Taco Shells

Recall by FDA and Safeway Company Demanded by Coalition

Washington DC - Genetically Engineered Food Alert, a coalition of health,
consumer and environmental groups, today called for an immediate recall of
taco shells produced and distributed by the Safeway Company. In a second
round of independent testing, samples of Safeway brand taco shells were
found to contain genetically engineered Starlink corn. The corn, not
approved for direct human consumption, is the same contaminant discovered
by the Genetically Engineered Food Alert in the Taco Bell brand taco shells
recalled by FDA and Kraft Company in September 2000.

Starlink, a corn that contains a genetically engineered plant pesticide,
marketed by the biotechnology company Aventis is currently deemed fit only
for animal consumption by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Aventis has applied for an exemption to this restriction even though the
EPA warned that Aventis¼ data indicate that "Cry9C exhibits some
characteristics of known allergens." Cyr9C was found to be heat stabile
and resistant to stomach acids and enzymes, indicating a potential
allergen. Possible health effects of food allergens range from nausea to
anaphylactic shock, but are not currently known due to lack of adequate
testing by government and industry.

Recall Demanded

The coalition filed a letter with the FDA calling on the Agency to recall
the Safeway brand taco shells.

"Safeway should follow Kraft Foods and recall the genetically contaminated
taco shells," said Larry Bohlen, Director of Health and Environment
Programs at Friends of the Earth. "Two contamination incidents in one
month show that the FDA is doing a miserable job protecting the American
food supply."

The coalition also sent a letter to Steven Burd, Chairman and CEO of
Safeway Company, requesting that the company voluntarily remove all its
brand taco shells from grocery store shelves.

FDA Oversight

Genetically Engineered Food Alert condemned the presence, as indicated by
the test results, of the genetically engineered ingredient and called the
second contamination incident evidence of FDAs failure to provide adequate
oversight of food biotechnology corporations and food producers.

"The recall of Taco Bell taco shells distributed by Kraft and the recent
finding of Starlink corn in Safeway products underscores the need for
stronger government regulation over genetically engineered foods," said
Philip Clapp, President of the National Environmental Trust. "While these
genetically engineered ingredients continue to enter the market, the Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) refuses to mandate pre-market safety testing
of genetically engineered ingredients or labeling for consumers's right to

The coalition has called on the FDA to test for the presence of Cry9C corn
in all products containing non-organic yellow corn #2, the class of corn to
which Cry9C belongs. The coalition also called on the FDA to conduct a
thorough investigation into numerous reports of illness made to FDA and
alleged to have been caused by consumption of contaminated taco shells.

The FDA is required by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to protect
the public against genetically engineered plant pesticides, such as the
particular kind of corn containing Cry9C, that are not approved by the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

FDA Recall of Taco Bell taco shells

FDA officially recalled the Taco Bell taco shells on October 2, 2000, after
the Kraft Company voluntarily recalled the taco shells from grocery store
shells. The Agency declared a class II recall, defined as "a situation in
which the use of, or exposure to, a violative product may cause temporary
or medically reversible adverse health effects."

Genetically Engineered Food Alert called on the FDA to take the same action
on the Safeway brand taco shells. "This product poses the same potential
health effects as the Taco Bell taco shells, therefore the FDA needs to
immediately remove them from the market to protect consumers," stated
Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety.

Aventis Company to Curb Distribution of Starlink

Aventis, under the direction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
has agreed to purchase the StarlinkÅ crops that are currently being grown
and harvested in the United States; an undertaking estimated to cost the
company $68 million, according to corn industry officials. An estimated 45
million bushels of StarlinkÅ corn were grown this year by American farmers.

About the Genetically Engineered Food Alert and
Genetically Engineered Food Alert founding members include: Center for Food
Safety, Friends of the Earth, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy,
National Environmental Trust, Organic Consumers Association, Pesticide
Action Network North America, and the State Public Interest Research Groups.

Genetically Engineered Food Alert supports the removal of genetically
engineered ingredients from grocery store shelves unless they are
adequately safety tested and labeled. The campaign provides web-based
opportunities for individuals to express concern about genetically
engineered food and fact sheets on health, environmental and economic
information about genetically engineered food. The campaign is endorsed by
more than 250 scientists, religious leaders, doctors, chefs, environmental
and health leaders, as well as farm groups.


The recall letters to Safeway, Taco Bell and Philip Morris, the formal
petition to the FDA, test results, as well as fact sheets on genetically
engineered Cry9C corn, the regulatory history of Cry9C, and on the
laboratory testing protocol are located on the Genetically Engineered Food
Alert website at

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