Kraft Foods voluntary recall of all Taco Bell shell products


Friday, September 22nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


Tests indicate presence of unapproved variety of corn.


NORTHFIELD, IL, September 22, 2000 - Kraft Foods is voluntarily recalling all Taco Bell Home Originals taco shell products sold nationwide only in supermarkets and other retail grocery outlets. Tests performed by an expert independent laboratory have indicated the presence in certain samples of a variety of corn Kraft had not specified for the product and which has not been approved for use in food.

While the corn variety, known as "StarLink," has not yet been approved for use in food, at this point there appears to be no evidence of adverse health effects.

"As soon as we learned that there might be an issue in the supply chain we purchased from, we have been guided by one priority - the safety of our products and their compliance with all regulatory requirements, " said Betsy Holden, President and Chief Executive Officer of Kraft Foods. "Testing has now indicated the presence of 'StarLink' and we are immediately withdrawing all affected products."
The products being recalled are:

Taco Bell Home Originals 12 Taco Shells
Taco Bell Home Originals 18 Taco Shells
Taco Bell Home Originals Taco Dinner (12 Shells, Sauce & Seasoning)

Consumers who have purchased any of these products should not eat them, and should return the packages to the store where they were purchased for a full refund.

Consumers with questions about the products involved in the recall can find information at the company's website, www.kraftfoods.com/special_report. Consumers can also call 1-800-433-9361 from 8 a.m. to midnight EDT.

As soon as Kraft learned of the possibility of a product ingredient problem, the company began immediate consultations with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and with its supplier. Kraft is licensed by Taco Bell to use the name on taco shell products sold only in supermarkets. Kraft purchases finished taco shell products for the Taco Bell taco line from Sabritas Mexicali, a wholly-owned subsidiary of PepsiCo, Inc. in Mexicali, Mexico. Sabritas purchases corn flour for the product from Azteca Milling L.P., which processes the flour in its Plainview, TX, mill.

The specifications for the corn Azteca purchased for the taco shells were confined solely to several varieties of conventional yellow corn, and did not include the "StarLink" corn.

Kraft has pledged full cooperation with FDA to help in any way it can to determine how the "StarLink" corn became mixed with the product ingredients. The company will discontinue production of the taco shell products until it can be assured that the raw materials and finished products provided by its suppliers are in full compliance with all regulatory requirements.

"All of us - government, industry and the scientific community - need to work on ways to prevent this kind of situation from ever happening again," Holden noted.

Kraft has four specific improvements the company is recommending for enhancing the safe entry of biotechnology into the marketplace, and encourages the appropriate regulatory authorities to consider the following:

Discontinuing partial approvals of advances in plant biotechnology, and not allowing crops approved for animal use to enter the market unless they have also been approved for use in food.
Requiring as a pre-condition to approval that a fully validated testing procedure be in place for identifying the relevant DNA in crops and in finished products.
Requiring mandatory review of all plant biotechnology advances by the appropriate government agencies before those advances enter the market.
Strengthening the requirements for environmental stewardship of plant biotechnology to enhance the integrity of the food supply chain from farm to finished product.

Facts about the Taco Bell shell recall

Products recalled nationwide: Taco Bell Home Originals 12 Taco Shells
Taco Bell Home Originals 18 Taco Shells
Taco Bell Home Originals Taco Dinner (12 Shells, Sauce & Seasoning)

Taco shell manufacturer: Sabritas Mexicali, a wholly-owned subsidiary of PepsiCo, Inc. in Mexicali, Mexico

Corn flour supplier: Azteca Milling L.P., processes the flour in its Plainview, TX, mill

Test results: Tests performed by expert independent lab have now indicated the presence of a variety of corn called "StarLink," not specified for the product and not approved for use in food.

"StarLink" corn: "StarLink" corn is a variety of corn that has not yet been approved for use in food, but at this point there appears to be no evidence of adverse health effects.