NORTHFIELD, Ill. -- Kraft Foods here has resumed shipping the Taco Bell Home Originals taco shells nationally, according to Kathy Knuth, Kraft's senior director of corporate affairs. They had been voluntarily recalled Sept. 22, in three stockkeeping units.
The products are now being made with white corn flour, Knuth said, rather than the yellow corn source that was found to contain a variety of corn not approved for human use. The manufacturer, named on Kraft's Web site the day of the recall, is Sabritas Mexicali, a wholly owned subsidiary of PepsiCo, in Mexicali, Mexico. The corn flour supplier is Azteca Milling L.P., Plainview, Texas.
After the gene for the unapproved variety, StarLink, was detected in tests, Kraft pulled its Taco Bell brand from store shelves. About 35 supermarket chains followed suit with their yellow-corn house brands, and Mission Foods, Irving, Texas, recalled its yellow corn products as well. Mission Foods makes a number of private-label corn products for many of the nation's largest grocery chains.
"All of our products are now [made from] 100% white corn and will remain so until the government can guarantee the safety of the yellow corn supply," Peter Pitts, spokesman for Mission Foods, told SN.
The StarLink strain is not approved for human use, although it can be used for animal feed. Laboratory testing shows the presence of the genes for StarLink, but not the actual protein, Pitts said. The protein is what could conceivably be harmful, possibly causing allergic reactions, although only 14 people have complained of allergic reactions, according to a report done for the EPA.
"We recalled because we couldn't be sure, and we are in the food business," he continued. "If you don't have the full confidence of your consumer, you don't get a seat at the table. The overall philosophy of a recall is, generally, to act with an abundance of caution."