Ashland Food Co-op Strengthens Product Standards

The Co-op has a standing Produce Standards committee that makes sure our product buyers adhere to our product policies. As more information comes out about genetically engineered ingredients, our Product Standards committee has had to be nimble and update our set of standards to reflect growing consumer demand of GMO free products.

Without laws requiring that GMO ingredients be noted on a product’s label, we have relied on manufacturers’ assurance that high risk ingredients are not GMOs. High risk ingredients come from high risk crops as defined by the Non-GMO Verified Project. Currently, these include alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, papaya, soy, sugar beets, zucchini, and yellow summer squash.

Our management team has endorsed our committee’s recommendation that food products carried before 2014 must have no GMOs in the first three ingredients in order to conform to AFC Product Standards. Further, as of January 1, 2014, any new food products with any high risk ingredients must be third party certified as Organic or GMO-free.  Local vendors with new products will be allowed to submit a signed affidavit declaring GMO-free ingredients in lieu of third party certification.

To avoid transgenic ingredients, we suggest that you eat primarily Certified Organic whole or packaged food products, or those items that have received Non-GMO Project Verification. Look for these assurances on labels. Genetic engineering is not allowed under the USDA Organic Standard, even if a product contains only 70% organic ingredients. The rest of the ingredients are not allowed to be genetically engineered. We also suggest decreasing your consumption of non-organic foods that contain high risk ingredients.

As we continue to identify GMOs in our products, non-conforming products will have Product Standards Alert signs posted at the point of purchase. Other prohibited ingredients include: hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, or bromated flour. Artificial sweeteners, preservatives, colors, flavors or additives are also prohibited, as well as primary ingredients that are irradiated, extracted with chemical solvents or produced by cruel practices.