When Natural Food Companies Obfuscate their GMOs

vans natural foods

We recently received a worried email from a Fooducate community member using the GMO discovery feature of our mobile app:

Dear Fooducate,
I am very disturbed that when I looked up Van’s Natural Foods on your website, the products did not have the “GMO Warning” on them.

Van’s Natural Foods does have an ‘organics’ line, but the regular products are a risk.

I attempted to ask Van’s Natural Foods via their Facebook page if they were using Non-GMO ingredients, because I was concerned about the soy, sugar, and canola oil in their Gluten Free waffles (I’m wheat allergic) without a Non-GMO tag.

Instead of giving me any kind of answer, they deleted my posts TWICE.  When I complained about that on their images, they reported my comments as spam.   When I brought this to the attention of our Non-GMO Facebook groups,  other people went and tried to ask Van’s about GMOs.  Van’s then REMOVED the commenting ability!  

Van’s indicated through this terrible behaviour that they are hiding information about GMOs and do not want attention on it.  They demonstrate that they cannot be trusted and should not be supported by any of us who are against GMOs.

Please, please add the “GMO Warning” label to your entries on Van’s Natural Foods.

Reminder: GMO stands for genetically modified organism. Crops in the US, such as soy and corn, are, for the most part, genetically modified to make them more sturdy and thus increase yields. The modification is quite a feat of science, but it leaves a few questions unanswered, for example what are the long term effects on human health.

In Europe, food companies are required to disclose on their product labels, whether their ingredients are GMO or not. In the US, there is no such mandate, though California came close last November, and last  week Connecticut approved a GMO labeling measure.

Of course, Fooducate app users can get an instant read on the GMO status of  product they look up, and in the case of Van’s there was apparently some confusion.

So we reached out Van’s and asked them if their products are non GMO. Here’s the answer we got:

As a small company with a passionate team committed to our mission, it’s our goal to earn your trust and loyalty by offering delicious foods that fully meet your health and nutrition needs…

Van’s has proudly baked great tasting, nutritious frozen breakfast foods for more than 20 years.  We seek to use minimally processed ingredients that you would find in your own kitchen. Van’s products contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives and have no high fructose corn syrup or trans fats.

As a natural foods company, we know GMOs are an important issue for our customers and as part of our commitment to natural foods, we make efforts to source non-GMO ingredients for our products.  Wheat (used in our non-gluten free products), rice, and oats are the primary ingredients in all Van’s products, none of the these grain crops are currently at high-risk for GMOs.  Van’s three Organic waffles (Totally Natural, Blueberry and Flax), Van’s Gluten Free Ancient Grains waffle, Van’s cereals (Honey Nut Crunch and Cinnamon Heaven), and Van’s Cranberry Almond and Chocolate Chip snack bar are certified non-GMO by the Non-GMO Project.  And we remain committed to our participation in the non-GMO project.

We’re not too happy with this answer as it doesn’t address ingredients such as those found in Van’s Natural Foods Waffles, Buckwheat with Berries, Gluten Free:

water, van’s gluten free buckwheat mix (brown rice flour, potato starch, rice flour, buckwheat flour, soy flour), canola oil, van’s natural fruit juice blend (pineapple, peach, and pear juice concentrates), sugar, inulin fiber, natural flavors, baking powder (sodium acid pyrophosphate, baking soda, calcium phosphate), salt, soy lecithin, dried blueberries and blackberries, sunflower oil, guar gum.

We highlighted the soy and canola ingredients, as they are suspect GMO (the majority of soy, corn, and rapeseed grown in North America is genetically modified).

Van’s behavior on their facebook page and in their email response to us is not what one would expect from a “small company with a passionate team whose goal is to earn our trust and loyalty”.

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  • Michael Legge

    Mike Legge. Dear Fooducate,

    I appreciate that folk are violently anti-GMO.I have not understood this concern. Unlike the use of pesticides as espoused by Rachel Carson or “big business” getting financial advantage through legal arm twisting. If you wash a vegetable to remove contaminants ,are these vegetables of inferior quality? Is there evidence that they are deleterious? Why do people angst about GMOs when the disaster of global warming crashes down on us? Worrying about GMOs is like adjusting the deck chairs on the Titanic.Fooducate is scientifically centred ( I hope) ,so please explain why GMOs are so terrible. Do the people who are are anti GMOs eat the vegetables that existed before genetic manipulation by breeders?

    Cheers you’re the greatest.

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      We’re not “violently anti-GMO”. We’re positively proactive about transparency.

  • J in VA

    J in VA
    It is my right as a consumer to purchase what I want. If a company wants my business, they need to be transparent when I ask questions. Someone may want to avoid any ingredient for any reason. If products have ingredient labels, then a potential consumer/purchaser has a right to inquire. Since many products are not sold by the original producer (ie a manufacturer selling to a grocer), the only way to know is to ask and then for your question to be answered.

    I may want to avoid cauliflower, if I’m buying mixed frozen vegetables, I should be able to ask if the mix contains cauliflower if I can’t tell from the labeling. It’s that simple.

    No answer, an impolite answer or a lie end the transaction for me.

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