Pepperidge Farm, the manufacturer of kid fave Goldfish crackers is being sued by a Colorado woman for misrepresenting its “Naturalness”. According to the lawsuit, Goldfish misleadingly represented that the crackers are Natural, when in fact they are not – they contain soy ingredients that are genetically modified. And GMO cannot be considered natural according to the plaintiff.
Is this lawsuit substantive, or just an opportunistic jab at the food industry, just weeks post strike-down of California’s Proposition 37 to label foods with genetically modified ingredients?
What you need to know:
The FDA has no definition for Natural. In our book, the term is meaningless, and should not be relied upon when making a food choice. We recommend reading the ingredient list and the nutrition label.
The Goldfish product has a fairly simple ingredient list, but unfortunately it is not listed on the Pepperidge Farm website:
Whole Grain Wheat Flour, Unbleached Enriched Wheat Flour [Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid], Cheddar Cheese [(Pasteurized Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes), Annatto], Vegetable Oils (Canola, Sunflower and/or Soybean), Contains 2 Percent or Less of: Salt, Yeast, Autolyzed Yeast, Spices, Leavening (Baking Soda, Monocalcium Phosphate), Onion Powder.
The GMO in this product would come from the Canola or Soybean oils. The rest of the ingredients are pretty straightforward and not troublesome at all. The sodium content is a bit high, but there are definitely much worse options out there for parents to feed their kids.
Here’s the thing with GMO: Any product in the US that contains soy, corn, canola oil, or one of their derivative ingredients is going to be GMO. Unless it is organic, or cleared by the Non GMO project. If you have made that type of food commitment – that’s wonderful.
But if you haven’t, should you feel bad about shortchanging your health or that of your kids?
Because there is no shortage of risks from food, or from anything else for that matter. The known risks of excess calories in one’s diet, or too much added sugar, or high levels of sodium are much greater than the potential risk of genetically modified soybean oil in crackers.
Bottom line: Natural is a meaningless term when plastered on foods. GMO labeling is important, but a product’s GMO content is not the most important thing to take into consideration when choosing a food.
What to do at the supermarket:
When looking for snack crackers, keep your eyes on the ingredient list and look for food without partially hydrogenated oils (trans fat). Sodium content can be very high, try to stay under the 230mg (10% Daily Value) number. Whole wheat options are better where possible. Buy without artificial colors.
If you want to avoid GMOs in your food, look for the Non-GMO verified label on the package. Organic food is also a good bet, but may be cross contaminated with GMOs.
You can also use the GMO feature on Fooducate’s Android and iPhone app, as well as on on our website (It’s free on all 3).