GMO-Free Products: Buy This, Not That
Genetically modified foods, otherwise referred to as GMOs, are defined as plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses, or other plants and animals, according to the NON GMO Project. For example, soy and corn are both found in many processed foods and are often genetically engineered. Consumer Reports explains that genetic engineering can introduce allergens and toxins in crops, change foods’ nutritional value, and create other changes that can potentially impact our health.
In a survey conducted by Consumer Reports, which included 1,004 adults, 72 percent of consumers said it’s important to avoid GMOs when shopping, while 40 percent said they look for non-GMO claims on foods. To help consumers avoid products that have been genetically engineered, Consumer Reports tested a variety of processed foods that list corn or soy as one of their ingredients. Products are considered to be non-GMO if the test results found that the corn/soy DNA isn’t more than 0.9 percent, while anything above that percentage is deemed as GMO.
Overall, the study concluded that products with an organic or non-GMO project verified claim had low or undetectable GMO levels. Ready to see which foods to eat and which to avoid? Here’s a breakdown of the products Consumer Reports tested.
1. Cereal and Granola Bars
Consumer Reports tested seven different cereal and granola bars and found that five of them contain GMOs: Kellogg’s Special K Protein Chocolatey Peanut Butter Granola Snack Bar, Nature Valley Crunchy Oats ‘N Honey Granola Bars, Nature Valley Protein Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chewy Bar, Nice! Oats & Honey Crunch Granola Bar, and PowerBar Performance Energy Chocolate Peanut Butter. None of the bars claim to be organic or GMO free, although the study notes that Nature Valley’s name does imply all-natural ingredients.
The study found two bars to be non-GMO: Clif Builder’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar and Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein. Both bars label themselves as non-GMO.
2. Breakfast Cereal
Consumer Reports found that many breakfast cereals contain significant levels of GMOs. Of the 13 cereals tested, the study found that eight of them contain genetically engineered ingredients, including General Mills Cocoa Puffs, Corn Chex, Kik, and Trix; Kashi GoLean and GoLean Hearty Honey & Cinnamon; Kellogg’s Froot Loops; and Quaker Life Original. Of those, Kashi GoLean Hearty Honey & Cinnamon was the only cereal to list itself as natural.
If you’re looking for a cereal that’s considered to be non-GMO, you’ve still got options! Barbara’s Puffins Peanut Butter, Beechnut/Goya Corn Cereal, Kashi GoLean Crunch!, Nature’s Path Organic Sunrise Crunchy Maple, and Post Grape Nuts Original are all free of GMOs, according to the study. Furthermore, excluding Beechnut/Goya, the cereals were all listed as non-GMO project verified, meaning they have been certified by an independent third party.
3. Corn Chips/Snacks
Surprisingly, of the 15 products tested, the study concluded only six were considered to be GMO. Consumer Reports found that Doritos Oven Baked Nacho Cheese, Pirate’s Booty Aged White Cheddar, Snyder’s of Hanover Yellow Corn Tortilla Chips, Tostitos Multigrain Tortilla Chips, Utz All-Natural Multigrain Tortillas, and Xochitl Totopos de Maiz contained GMOs. Two of these products listed themselves as natural, while Xochitl claimed to be non-GMO.
However, the study found an abundance of non-GMO snack options, which include seven that claim to be organic. GMO-free corn chips and snacks include: 365 Everyday Value Organic Tortilla Chips White Corn, Barcel Takis Nitro, Food Should Taste Good Yellow Corn Dipping Chips, Guiltless Gourmet All Natural Baked Not Fried Yellow Corn Tortilla Chips, Mission Organics Blue Corn Tortilla Chips, Que Pasa Organic Tortilla Chips, Simply Tostitos Yellow Corn Tortilla Chips, Trader Joe’s Organic Yellow Corn Tortilla Chip Rounds, and Xochitl Totopos de Maiz White Corn Chips Organic. Both 365 Everyday Value and Guiltless Gourmet were listed as non-GMO project verified.
4. Baking Mixes/Flours
If you’re hoping to bake with non-GMO mixes and flours, avoid Betty Crocker Authentic Cornbread & Muffin Mix, Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix, Krusteaz Natural Honey Cornbread & Muffin Mix, and Quaker Yellow Corn Meal, according to the study.
Which products should you stick with? Arrowhead Mills Organic Gluten Free Yellow Corn Grits, Bob’s Red Mill Organic Whole Grain Corn Flour, and Hodgson Mill Mexican Style Jalapeno Cornbread Mix. Interestingly, two of the mixes and flours found to be GMO free were labeled as organic, one was non-GMO project verified, and one claimed to be GMO free.
5. Corn Tortilla/Tortilla Flour
Practice caution when purchasing tortillas for your tacos, buritos, and enchiladas. Consumer Reports found that La Banderita Corn Tortillas, Maseca Instant Corn Masa Flour, Mission White Corn Tortillas, Mission Yellow Corn Tortillas, Old El Paso Crunchy Taco Shells, and Ortega Yellow Corn Taco Shells all contain significant levels of GMOs.
Of the four products listed as non-GMO, three were labeled as organic, one was non-GMO project verified, and three claimed to be GMO free. The study’s results showed that 365 Everyday Value Organic Corn Tortillas, Bob’s Red Mill Golden Corn Flour, Food For Life Organic Sprouted Corn Tortillas, and La Tortilla Factory Sonoma All Natural Yellow Corn Tortillas are all considered to be non-GMO products.
6. Infant Formula
Four of the six infant formulas tested contained genetically engineered ingredients, including Enfamil ProSobee Soy Infant Formula, Gerber Good Start Soy, Similac Go & Grow Soy Infant Formula, and Similac Soy Isomil.
However, the two products found to be non-GMO were accurately labeled by food manufacturers. Both 365 Organic Soy-Based Infant Formula and Earth’s Best Organic Soy Infant Formula include a non-GMO and organic claim.
7. Meat Substitutes
When it comes to meat substitutes, Consumer Reports found that Boca Original Vegan Veggie Burgers, MorningStar Farms Grillers California Turk’y Burger, and MorningStar Farms Chik’n Nuggets contain GMOs. None of these products claimed to be organic or non-GMO.
The majority of products tested, however, were found to be GMO free. Amy’s All American Veggie Burger, Bob’s Red Mill TVP, Boca All American Classic Veggie Burgers, Primal Strips Soy Meatless Vegan Jerky Texas BBQ, and Wildwood SproutTofu Meatless Meatballs Original are all considered to be non-GMO options. Consumer Reports notes that the Amy, Bob, Boca, and Primal products all claim to be non-GMO, while Wildwood is listed as non-GMO project verified.
8. Soy “Dairy”
Of the nine soy products tested, Consumer Reports found them all to be non-GMO. Furthermore, six of them were labeled as organic, four as non-GMO project verified, and three claimed to be non-GMO.
Here are the products that were tested: Pacific All Natural Ultra Soy Original Non-Dairy Beverage, Silk Original Soymilk, Soy Dream Butter Pecan Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert, Soy Dream Enriched Soymilk Original, Soy Dream Vanilla Frozen Dessert, Soy Slender Soymilk Vanilla, Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese Plain, Tofutti Cuties Vanilla Frozen Dessert, and Trader Joe’s Soy Slices Cheese Alternative Cheddar Flavor.
Consumer Reports also concluded that all of the tofu/tempeh products tested were non-GMO, including Lightlife Organic Tempeh Original, Nasoya Organic Extra Firm Tofu, Nasoya Light Silken Tofu, Soga All Natural Extra Firm Tofu, Soyboy Organic Smoked Tofu, and Wildwood Organic SprouTofu.
Additionally, five of the six products were listed as organic, five were labeled as non-GMO project verified, and one contained a non-GMO claim.