Sunday, October 24, 2010

Kellogg's and Kashi

If you're kept up to date by the Organic Consumer's Association, then this is old news; however, with an image like this, I find it very fitting to write this post here at Halloween.

Recently the OCA asked that consumers join them in boycotting Kellogg's based on their use of genetically engineered ingredients.  The catalyst for the boycott was a response received by a Kellogg's Consumer Specialist excusing the use of these ingredients by stating that because organic ingredients are subject to cross-pollination with other genetically modified (GM) ingredients than there's no need to bother eliminating the GM ingredients...or something to that effect.  I've copied the response from the OCA Take Action Alert:

Thank you for your comments regarding the use of biotechnology ingredients. Like you, we want only the best ingredients to go into our products.

Biotech ingredients are safe and have become common in the open market. Sixty to seventy percent of packaged foods in the U.S. include biotechnology crops. Even organic ingredients can contain biotech ingredients due to cross-pollination.

We use biotech ingredients based on the backing of groups including the World Health Organization, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the American Medical Association that confirm there are no safety concerns.

Given that I was already unofficially boycotting Kellogg's, having already removed their products from our grocery cart due to their use of GM ingredients, this was no big sacrifice.  That is until I realized that Kellogg's owned Kashi.  Now it's an entirely different story.

I like the Kashi products and have highlighted them in past posts.  A big reason for that is I feel that the company is very responsible in their food allergen labeling, that their product is a healthy alternative to the main stream brands and that the company has a great focus on the environment and sustainability.  In a company profile, I learned that Kashi itself isn't a big company (if you take Kellogg's out of the equation) consisting of just 70 employees.  I had my suspicions about their use of GM products so I limited our purchases to their breakfast cereals.  My kids like the cereals and don't complain when they're served it for breakfast instead of something with an animal mascot on the front of the box.  Frankly, it's quite hard to find cereal that meets my high standards and is also safe for Abigail.  Most "organic" cereals are processed in a plant with other peanut products.

I recently contacted Kashi about their use of GM ingredients, and got the following response:

Thank you for contacting us about our products and the use of genetically modified organisms. At Kashi Company we believe in providing pure, delicious, minimally processed foods for our consumers.

The basis for our product line is our proprietary blend of Seven Whole Grains & Sesame. The whole grains include oats, long grain brown rice, hard red winter wheat, rye, buckwheat, barley, and triticale. None of these grains are commonly harvested using genetically modified organisms.

We do not voluntarily source ingredients that are genetically modified. Due to cross-pollination at the level of the farm and manufacturer it has created an environment in North America where GM is not sufficiently controlled therefore we cannot guarantee that the ingredients we source are GMO free.

Certified organic products are grown using non-GM seeds, but even organic products face significant challenges when it comes to controlling for contamination. Kashi does offer an organic line of cereals called Organic Promise™. 

I can see the Kellogg's influence in their statement concerning the cross-pollination of non-GM plants.  In addition to my reply, here's a link to a message board discussing Kashi's ingredient sources for some of their other product lines.

Here's what I decided.  My favorite cereal is the Organic Promise Cinnamon Harvest cereal and my kids go through a box of Oat Flakes & Blueberry Clusters every couple of days.  My cereal is organic, and the kid's cereal is made using their blend of whole grains none of which are high on the GMO list.  I've found a couple of other safe cereals at Trader Joe's that I now purchase in large quantities to add some variety.  As for the rest of the Kashi products, I don't purchase those anymore.

It makes me both sad and mad at the same time that this much thought, effort and research has to go into the food we purchase.  I'm also disappointed to find an otherwise healthy line of food made toxic by the use of genetically modified ingredients.  Kashi, take note....there are other really good food manufacturers doing what it takes to ensure that they use quality, organic ingredients.  And, as soon as Abigail finishes this clinical trial, and can eat foods processed in a plant that uses peanuts, we're switching!!


kelly said...

What about KRAFT? Do you think there are GMO substances in them?

Mom with a Mission said...

Kelly, thanks for all of the comments you're leaving!

I just went on Kraft's website to look at all of their brands (Honey Maid, Cool Whip, Cadbury, Chips Ahoy, Jell-O, Kool Aid, to name a few) and none of the ones that I recognized, which were most of them, promote being GMO free. Given the size of these brands, I feel pretty sure that they utilize GMO ingredients. They have several brands that they sell only to European companies which are probably GMO free because most other countries refuse to eat genetically modified foods.

It has to be a pretty special occasion for me to purchase one of the Kraft branded products.

Laura said...

which safe cereals do you purchase at Trader Joe's? I noticed last night Kellogg's now makes a Crunchy Nut cereal - peanuts is 3rd on the ingredients list! I looked into organics and Annie's - but they list may contain nuts. I don't know what to do for cereal?!

Mom with a Mission said...

Hi Laura. Thanks for the comment.

There are only a few cereals at TJ's that aren't labeled for peanuts/tree nuts. I purchase the Frosted Shredded Wheat (bite size) for Abigail. She loves these. I also purchase the Triple Berry O's. These taste as good or better than Cheerios and have dried raspberry, strawberry and blueberries in it. My son likes these.

Also, you can find Cascadian Farms cereal at Wal-Mart for under $3 a box. We like the Fruitful O's, the Cinnamon Crunch and the Clifford Crunch. Here's a post I wrote on Cascadian Farms not too long ago with links to their site: (

My favorite is the Kashi Organic Cinnamon Harvest Cereal. I still haven't found a good replacement for my son's favorite Blueberry Clusters from Kashi. I'm pretty confident it has GM ingredients so I need to make that change pretty soon.

Good luck!

Mom with a Mission

Laura said...

thank you so much -big help!

Anonymous said...

Cross pollination with GM plants is actually a big (and legitimate) problem. If your field of non-GMO crops has a field containing GMO crops nearby, then some of the pollen from that crop can cross into yours...and now your field is tainted.
While I share your skepticism here on Kelloggs, the cross pollination excuse isn't totally off-base.

Mom with a Mission said...

Anonymous....I totally agree. It's a huge concern which is why there should be no GM crops in the first place (or at least no new ones going forward). How difficult is it going to be in the future to purchase true organic due to this cross-pollination? It's a scary thought.

My issue with Kelloggs is that attitude of "why bother." If they would stop purchasing GM ingredients, there would not be as much demand for GM crops resulting in a decline in the risk of that cross-pollination. As a really large company, they could make a huge impact.

Speaking of new GM crops, within the next couple of days, the USDA is going to announce their policy on GM alfalfa. Organic alfalfa is primarily grown for feed used for organic dairy farmers. There's a big concern on the potential of cross-pollination of these crops.

Thanks for leaving a comment. Hope you'll do so again!

Anonymous said...

Be careful with both Kashi and Cascadian Farms. Both contain GMO's, undisclosed chemicals, and highly processed ingredients. Cascadian Farms is owned by General Mills. Enough said! Kashi can have up to 100% GMO's in their grains.
There was a federal class action lawsuit against Kashi for misrepresentation of product ingredients, omitting ingredients, false advertising, and a whole myriad of infractions.
We are being fooled over and over again. Unless we protest by not buying into their scams, complain to them directly, then they will win. Boycott these companies and do not buy their products.
Read labels, ask direct questions! It is too bad we have to do this to ensure that what we are eating is healthy. But, that is the sad state of the world we live in, here in the USA.
Unlike other countries, like most of Europe, our regulations are slack. Europeans totally banned GMO's and the poisonous chemicals that the US permits in their foods. American companies are raking in billions as they poison our food supply. Everything we eat is tainted and messed with, unless it is certified organic.
So, that said, we have to take action, spread the word, complain and boycott. That's the only way to make a change before it is too late.