WASHINGTON (B)--ConAgra has confirmed that it is removing 1.45 million pounds of corn flour, meal and grits from the U.S. market because the corn tested positive for non-approved StarLink, but says that the product withdrawal is not a recall because the products were intended for food processors, and not for U.S. consumers. According to a ConAgra spokeswoman, U.S. law defines a recall as pertaining to final consumer products destined for supermarket shelves, and not unfinished goods such as flour and meal destined for further processing.
According to Karen Savinski, spokeswoman for ConAgra, the company issued the withdrawal order on Oct. 17--and not Oct. 4, as FDA reported--after a tip that someone might have sold some StarLink corn to their Atchison, KS, corn mill.
Subsequent tests of corn for StarLink were positive, Savinski told BridgeNews, and the company temporarily halted its production lines in mid-October in order to deal with the situation.
"We are doing everything we to do make sure that StarLink is not in our products," Savinski said. "No products produced in Atchison were sent to consumers."
The company has increased testing of all incoming corn and has resumed production at it Atchison facility on Oct. 24, Savinski said.
Savinski said she did not know if any of the withdrawn corn products were intended for export. The 1.45 million pounds of meal and flour represent about one-day's production at the Atchison corn mill, she said.
BridgeNews reported the FDA announcement Nov. 16.
StarLink is a type of genetically altered Bt corn that use genes from the Bacillus thuringiensis to produce insect repellent proteins. EPA only allowed StarLink to be used for animal feed, corn plastics and ethanol because the insect-repellent protein bears some similarities to known food allergens.
After taco shells containing StarLink DNA were found in the U.S., Aventis agreed to withdraw the license for StarLink corn following the harvest of the 2000 corn crop. Several food companies in the United States and Japan have recalled yellow corn products in the wake of the discovery.