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EMPLOYEE0Since Applegate was founded more than 25 years ago, we have been working towards our goal to Change the Meat We Eat. By “change,” we mean making the types of food people love to eat – like hot dogs, deli meat and bacon – with clean ingredients and meat sourced from family farmers who raise animals humanely; without the use of antibiotics or growth hormones.
Recently, the increasing prevalence of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in the food supply and growing public interest in the topic has caused us to reflect more deeply on the issue.
Over the past few months, we’ve taken a tough look at our products, determined how GMOs impact them, and identified areas where we can improve. Here is the information you need to know in order to exercise your right to know:
- First and foremost, we offer a complete line of Certified Organic products that follow the USDA National Organic Program’s rules against GMO ingredients and feed.
- Second, with the help of third party experts, we have reviewed every ingredient in our Natural line and evaluated it for GMO risk. We hired experts because there are some ingredients, like certain spices and honey, where the risk for GMOs is not immediately obvious.
- Our investigation found that the vast majority of our natural products are GMO-free, although we identified a few GMO ingredients which we were able to remove immediately.
- Finally, there are a handful of products – 10 to be exact – which presently contain GMO ingredients. We aim to remove these ingredients by the end of 2013, provided we can maintain our standards for taste and quality. We will keep customers informed on our progress as changes are made.
Products that do contain GMO ingredients are:
- Natural Chicken Nuggets
- Natural Chicken Patty
- Natural Family Sized Chicken Nuggets
- Natural Gluten Free Family Size Chicken Nuggets
- Natural Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets
- Natural Gluten Free Chicken Tenders
- Natural Homestyle Chicken Tenders
- Natural Chicken and Maple Breakfast Sausage
- Natural Gluten Free Beef Corn Dogs
- Natural Chicken Pot Pie
At Applegate we feel strongly that people have a right to know what’s in their food which is why we’ve made significant contributions in support of California’s Proposition 37 and the Just Label It campaign. In our desire for transparency we inquired about whether we can add a label stating “genetically engineered” to the remaining 10 items. At the present time, USDA regulations will not allow companies to voluntarily label products that contain genetically modified ingredients and so our attempt was denied. To be clear, this is not the case with products like cereal that are regulated by the FDA and can be voluntarily labeled.
Beyond Ingredients: Non-GMO Feed
Our focus to date, like all GMO labeling initiatives and proposed legislation, has been on eliminating added GMO ingredients. However, we recognize that some of you want to know what happens further up the supply chain, including whether the animals raised for our products consume GMOs in their feed.
- First and foremost, our Organic line is, and always has been, made from animals raised on certified organic, GMO-free feed.
- In an ideal world, we would require that farmers in our Natural line source only GMO-free feed as well, and we appreciate the concerns that some have regarding the use of GMOs in animal feed. However, there are two interrelated issues. First, at this time, the supply for such feed simply does not exist. Second, there isn’t sufficient consumer demand for organic meats and the higher prices that come with them, for our farmers to justify converting their systems to organic ones.
- We recognize that we are operating in an imperfect system, but feel strongly that even without GMO-free feed, our Natural line helps foster a great deal of positive change in the world of meat by supporting family farmers who raise animals without the use of antibiotics or growth hormones according to humane standards and supporting our customers who are taking steps to improve the quality of meat they consume.
We greatly appreciate your interest in the important issues surrounding food and your continued support of our mission to change the meat we eat.