Are my favorite corn tortillas GMO free?

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UPDATE 9/10/2014 – Yesterday, I received an e-mail from Domingo Gonzalez of the Quality Assurance team for Ole Mexican Foods. He informed me that La Banderita Corn Tortillas are not manufactured with non-GMO corn. This is a huge disappointment, but I do appreciate Ole Mexican Foods and Mr. Gonzalez for being proactive and helping me to inform SallyHomemaker.com readers about this when it would have been just as easy to remain silent on the issue and allow people to continue to believe that the tortillas are GMO-free.

As much as we want to avoid GMOs in our household, we have found it impossible to weed them completely out of our diets. As I’ve written on this site many times before, the only way to be sure your food is GMO-free is to either buy certified organic products, or to buy foods that have been certified by the Non-GMO Project. For the most part, Non-GMO Project foods still won’t be your best choice, because that label largely applies to processed foods, which we should be avoiding anyway.

All things considered, we will still buy store-bought tortillas now and then, and when we do, they will probably be La Banderita brand tortillas — that is, until an organic brand becomes available in our local area.

If you are interested, Mr. Gonzalez’s letter is below:


Hi Sara,
Time ago, Mr. Edgar Moreno made an incorrect statement that our corn tortillas are manufactured with non-GMO corn based on misinterpretation of the information provided by the corn flour supplier. We would like to amend this information and we are requesting your advise to do it in the proper way. please let me know

Domingo Gonzalez
Quality Assurance
Ole Mexican Foods

 

Update: Thanks to information from a SallyHomemaker.com website visitor, I can now add that El Lago brand tortillas from Austin, Texas are also a non-GMO brand. Scroll to the end of this post for further details.

As I’ve been learning more about GMOs, I’ve been actively contacting various food manufacturers to see if their products are made with GM Corn, etc.. (Especially corn, because corn is a big staple food in our home — grits, cornbread, corn tortillas, etc..)

Today, I sent an e-mail to Ole Mexican Foods, the company that makes La Banderita Corn Tortillas. Their preservative-free tortillas have been my hands-down favorite store-bought brand, because they taste the closest to homemade when they’re heated up on the comal (griddle.)

But are they GMO-free?

Here’s what I wrote:

“I have been learning a lot about genetically modified crops lately and am actively replacing all of the brands I ordinarily buy with non-GMO products. I have been unable to find whether or not the corn used in producing La Banderita brand tortillas is non-GMO corn. Please let me know whether or not La Banderita tortillas are non-GMO, and if they are, I recommend La Banderita tortillas be non-GMO Project Verified. (Google it – it’s a growing movement among consumers.) If they are not, I wish La Banderita would provide non-GMO corn tortillas as an alternative. Many of us consumers would be willing to pay more for a product that is healthier for our families. The La Banderita preservative-free tortillas are my favorite brand, so I hope the company will consider my message. Thank you”

Here is the response I received from Edgar Moreno of Ole Mexican Foods:

“Sara,

Our corn tortillas are made with non GMO corn.  We are in the process of adding this to our packaging.

Thank you for your business.

Edgar Moreno”

Oh, I’m really hopeful that this is accurate information. I LOVE these tortillas… but for now, I think I better wait and see before making any recommendations.

Having the Non-GMO Project Verified label on the tortillas would mean they have gone through a thorough evaluation to ensure the food is free of genetically engineered ingredients. Let’s hope the Non-GMO Project Verified label is what they’ll be adding to their packaging!

If so, I will be promoting these tortillas like crazy! Well… Time will tell!

 


Ellen Mickle, a SallyHomemaker.com website visitor, submitted this helpful information for readers and fellow tortilla fans in Texas:

El Lago is a small tortilleria based in Austin, Texas. They deliver their non-GMO corn tortillas as far north as Waco and as far south as San Antonio.  Click here for a list of available locations to purchase this brand.

Comments

    • Sara says

      That’s good to know! I don’t know if they sell that brand around eastern NC, but I’m sure there are lots of El Milagro tortilla fans who will be happy to know that! :)

  1. audiobabie says

    Well, supposedly their corn is non gmo, but they didn’t specify and I didn’t ask if the other ingredients used in processing them do. Plus, if they are truly non gmo why do they not label them as such. I emailed them to ask more questions, but the email I sent was returned to me as failed to go through, which I don’t understand because I tried 3 different emails from their website and each one of them failed to go through.

    • Sara says

      Well, I contacted the Non-GMO Verified Project regarding La Banderita tortillas and received this response:

      “Sara,

      Thank you for your email, and for your support!

      We will follow-up with Ole Foods and let them know that a customer has requested they look into verifying their non-GMO claim.

      Thank you for all you do!”

      I don’t know what the next step in the process is, but I will be looking for Non-GMO on the packaging soon, since that’s what I was told was in the works by La Banderita. Thanks for checking on this, and reporting about it here.

  2. audiobabie says

    I have also contacted The non gmo project regarding El Milagro brand of tortillas. I’m almost sure they are going to fail :(. From now on I will only eat tortillas with the non gmo label until I find out the truth about El milagro. So sad. Thanks!

  3. Sofia says

    I asked Ole Mexican food the same question about GMO free tortillas, by email about a week and a half ago.

    No answer, I cannot be re assured with that :(

  4. Karen Jean says

    The Non-GMO project is working to get local stores to offer sections via labeling of all the Non-GMO products they offer — they also raise awareness if a lot of people respond to the same food — they will approach that company and show them all the requests which would hopefully move the manufacturer to make needed changes.. also, go to the local stores you purchase the merchandise and request they sign-on to the Non-GMO Project Labeling project and allow us the ‘educated’ consumer which as you know is the BEST consumer to make that choice and to become part of the project ….you can also do searches for the organic version … and go on-line to get the 800 number of the product you love and call Headquarters and state your hope … as well as many friends/familes who feel the same — stength is in the #s …. tell them you buy less or boycott until they take part … and give them the numbers of others that will do the same … when you effect their bottom line — that’s when changes WILL occur – trust me on this.

  5. Jean says

    I just found this site while searching online for information on LaBanderita corn tortillas. Thank you!! I’m so glad you are here and that they are GMO free.

    I am concerned, however, because today is 2/21/2013 and I have an unopened package of La Banderita Corn Tortillas, expiration date is 10/15/12 ,which has shown absolutely no sign whatsoever of mold, decay, rot or any other indication of natural breakdown!

    It is bad enough that I let them get lost in the back of the fridge for so long — but since it was around Thanksgiving when I found them, I was curious as to how long it would take them to show any signs of normal, natural food and so I have kept them.

    My understanding is that if it can not rot outside of your body, then it can not be properly digested inside your body.

    Am I right? Do you know if Ole Mexican Foods has come up with a healthy way to stop nature — as in healthy to me, not their bottom line?

    Thanks so much.

    • Sara says

      The 100% Natural, Preservative-Free La Banderita tortillas are what I buy. I don’t buy the regular ones. According to Mr. Moreno’s e-mail, however, all of their corn tortillas are made with non-GM corn. That wouldn’t mean all of their corn tortillas are preservative-free.

      The 100% natural ones definitely need to be kept in the fridge once you purchase them, and they do not taste very good after about a week, so I don’t doubt the preservative-free claim. (I made the mistake of leaving some out on the counter for a couple of days last summer and was sad to see mold had gotten to them.) As for the non-GMO claim? It’s a family-owned company, and I believe them if they tell me it’s non-GMO. I’m not saying that I can verify it, myself, but right now, all I have to go by is their word. We don’t have any better options for store-bought tortillas around here. I make corn tortillas at home sometimes, but often, we need more tortillas than I can reasonable make quickly.

      La Banderita 100% Natural Preservative-Free corn tortillas

  6. V.R. says

    Tortillas don’t grow mold unless your fridge is very humid. I lived in Mexico, using tortillas fresh from the tortilla conveyer ovens, have taken them home, let them go “bad” inside the fridge and out. They tend not to mold, I’m assuming, because of the lime used in making them. They will grow mold if left near some fresh foods while in the fridge.

    But it’s a corn tortilla. Imagine drying one out: It’s a tortilla chip. Meats and fresh vegetables rot, and humid items grow mold. Tortillas, dry up and get hard, or crumble only if fried.

    Still looking for more info on the non GMO tortillas though.

    I have to say, calling a factory and asking isn’t enough for me. Not just because taking a stranger’s word isn’t enough, but the packaging usually carries just a business number not a corporate number. That takes some work.

    And my main reasoning is, if it were in fact non-GMO they would have already put it on the packaging.

    It’s a very big issue in Mexico and for Mexicans there and here in the U.S. Growing GMOs was not allowed for a very long time in Mexico, due to the variety of corns that would suffer if they did. Corn is a big deal there, it’s nearly spiritual as it represents the lifeblood of the nation, and is the biggest staple used. They are not ignorant to what GMOs are or aren’t. So, they would surely know the source, and if it were GMO or not. No self-respecting tortilla maker wouldn’t.

  7. V.R. says

    Adding:

    If they were using 100% GMO free, they would most definitely carry it on the package. It’s a source of pride, how could they leave it off?

    Given that there are diminishing resources for GMO-free corn in the U.S. and now even in Mexico, you may be able to tell the difference by the price. True GMO-free corn will be more expensive. The cheaper the brand, the more chances it’s GMO corn. Sorry I don’t have substantial facts to provide, just conjecture.

    Growing up eating tamales, tortillas, and all kinds of other corn flour foods, I am saddened that I’ve had to stop making them with familiar products and have to now search for organic only. That includes anything with corn syrup and corn starch.

    The extent of the damage is not being made clear. But I do know GMOs are harmful. Our bodies may be able to “handle” them in small doses, but tests have shown they are damaging to mammals, causing tumors, hormonal problems, and cancer, especially to females.

    http://www.enveurope.com/content/23/1/10

    American food has a lot of corn byproduct hidden within, and for Americans with cultural foods that use a lot of corn, twice the damage. Very sad. Too bad the media coverage doesn’t reflect the severity of the issue.

    • Sara says

      You bring up some very good points. I’m aware of the corn contamination situation in Mexico, and the loss of indigenous varieties because of the evil of GM corn. It would be reasonable for the makers of La Banderita tortillas to specifically mention that they’re non-GMO on their labels, or at least on their website, if they’re truly non-GMO, unless they have some varieties that are and some varieties that aren’t, in which case they might not want to draw attention to those that aren’t by labeling those that are. (Also, perhaps they’re worried they’d be sued if they claimed to have non-GMO corn and their corn ended up cross-pollinated with corn from a nearby GM corn grower?)

      As far as the health of consumers goes, the best solution is, of course, for people to stick with whole foods and specifically look for organic fruit, vegetable and grain products. Then, there is no need for concern about ingesting hidden GMOs. Organic-certified whole foods are non-GMO by definition. (On a side note, I think it’s also best that people try to avoid the organic processed foods trap. It’s easy to get tempted into buying a ton of convenience foods just because they have that ‘organic’ label, but they’re really not the best we can do. Organic doesn’t necessarily equal healthy. Not to mention, I’m far more suspicious of the organic processed foods, as it seems they’d be far easier to sneak in non-organic ingredients than whole foods.)

      Non-GMO and organic masa is available online, if not in stores, for making tortillas, tamales, gorditas, etc.. I like the Bob’s Red Mill brand of Masa Harina. Although it’s not ‘organic,’ Bob’s Red Mill plainly states on their website that they use identity-preserved, non-GMO seed for all of their products. They can’t guarantee that there’s never any cross-pollination, but no farmer can unless he has the equipment, and not all farmers/companies are willing or able to invest in that.

      No more often than we use tortillas these days, I’ll probably still buy La Banderita All Natural tortillas when I’m feeding a crowd, but I buy the Bob’s Red Mill masa for my other cooking needs.

  8. Dorothy Arreola Pina says

    I’m on a Plant Vase Diet. I will make homemade Non GMO Tortillas, Tamales & Gorditas. There is a first time for everything. :-))

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