Genetically engineered foods should be labeled – that’s been my position for 20 years. But a whole range of other food production techniques, and especially microbial food safety (the stuff that make people sick) should also be on the label.
“Top Chef” producer and celebrity chef Tom Colicchio has been an outspoken proponent on the issue of labeling genetically engineered food and ingredients. He has urged chefs and consumers across the country to support labeling legislation.
Maybe he should urge the use of thermometers in his food porn kitchens.
Chef Colicchio may also want to ask why Cheerios and Grape-Nuts no longer contain four vitamins that previously had been added to Grape-Nuts — vitamins A, D, B-12 and B-2 (also known as riboflavin) — were gone – and riboflavin vanished from Cheerios.
Wayne Parrott, a professor of crop science at the University of Georgia criticized General Mills and Post Foods for marketing their non-GMO cereals as especially wholesome. “The new version [of Cheerios] is certainly less nutritious,” he told a reporter for Foodnavigator-usa.com, which covers the food industry.
This mini-controversy never got much attention. Recently, though, as we interviewed scientists who are using genetically altered yeast and bacteria to make nutrients and flavors, we recalled the strange case of the vanishing vitamins. We wondered: Do GMO microbes make vitamins, too? Is that why they can’t be used in non-GMO cereals?
The companies directly involved weren’t terribly helpful. Post Foods, the maker of Grape-Nuts, informed us in a prepared statement that vitamins were removed because “they did not meet non-GMO standards,” but refused to explain why this was so.
Two of the world’s major vitamin makers, BASF and DSM, declined to provide details of their manufacturing. “There is very little non-proprietary information I could talk to you about,” a spokesman for DSM wrote in an email.
We dug further and discovered that vitamins may fail the non-GMO test for a variety of reasons.
Some companies are most likely making vitamin B-12 and riboflavin using genetically modified microbes; they have, at least, published scientific papers showing how this can be done.
I’ll stick to oats for breakfast and focusing on what actually makes people sick.