Washington Kraft Foods on Friday recalled all taco shells sold nationwide in supermarkets under the Taco Bell brand after tests confirmed they were made with genetically engineered corn that isn't approved for human consumption.
The corn, one of the least grown of several biotech varieties, is approved for use only in animal feed because of questions about whether it could cause allergic reactions in people.
Tests commissioned by an anti-biotech environmental group found traces of the corn in taco shells that had been purchased in a Washington suburb, and tests performed for Kraft at an independent lab showed the corn in "multiple" samples of the product, the company said.
The Food and Drug Administration said there was no known threat to human health from the corn.
Kraft, a division of Philip Morris Inc., said it would discontinue production of the shells until it can be sure there is no more of the genetically engineered corn in the meal it buys.
Kraft did not know how many packages were in homes, stores or in distribution channels, but a spokesman said it was safe to say the number is in the millions.
"As soon as we learned that there might be an issue in the supply chain we purchased from, we have been guided by one priority, the safety of our products and their compliance with all regulatory requirements," said Betsy Holden, Kraft's chief executive.
The nationwide recall includes packages labeled Taco Bell Home Originals 12 Taco Shells, Taco Bell Home Originals 18 Taco Shells and Taco Bell Home Originals Taco Dinner (12 shells, sauce and seasoning). The recall does not apply to shells sold through Taco Bell restaurants, which use a different supplier.
The corn, which contains a bacterium gene that makes it toxic to an insect pest, is produced by Aventis Corp., under the trade name StarLink.
Kraft said that the government should not allow farmers to grow a biotech crop that isn't approved for human consumption.