Questions and answers regarding our non-GMO standards
Updated July 8, 2019
We source ingredients that are non-GMO. The following FAQs address our standards for determining that the ingredients we source for the products we sell in the United States are non-GMO.
(The European Union and other markets in which our products are distributed have laws regarding the use of genetically modified products. In those jurisdictions, our products comply with applicable laws.)
Q: What do we mean by non-GMO?
A: “GMO” is an acronym for genetically modified organism. We use the more popular term GMO as a synonym for the narrower, more precise term “bioengineered food.” United States federal law defines bioengineered food as a food that contains genetic material that has been modified through in vitro recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (rDNA) techniques and for which the modification could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature.
Please note the following important qualifications regarding our definition of non-GMO:
- Our products may contain limited amounts of GMO materials as a result of contact with such materials during harvest, production, and transportation.
- The yeast and certain additives we use, including ascorbic acid and enzymes, are not GMO themselves, but may be produced with the aid of or derived from GMOs in some instances.
- The milk and butter we use is not organic and we generally source these ingredients from US suppliers. In the US, feed for cows that produce non-organic milk and butter typically includes GMO ingredients such as GMO corn. The feed, then, fed to the cows that produce our milk and butter undoubtedly contains GMO ingredients. However, the cows themselves are not genetically modified.
Q: Are GMO foods safe?
We are not aware of any consensus within the scientific community to the effect that foods that include GMO ingredients are any more dangerous than their non-GMO counterparts.
Q: Did Martin’s change any of its ingredients to make its products non-GMO?
A: Yes. Most of the key ingredients we use in our products, including wheat flour and wheat gluten, are not commercially available in GMO forms. However, certain categories of ingredients that we use do include GMO options (e.g., potato flour, oil, and sugar).
As part of our commitment to sourcing non-GMO ingredients, we replaced certain ingredients with ingredients that are not commercially available in GMO forms. For example, we replaced soybean oil and soy lecithin, which are widely available in the US in GMO forms, with, respectively, sunflower oil and sunflower lecithin, which are not commercially available in GMO forms.
(Sugar may be derived from certain plants, such as sugar beets, that are widely available in the US in GMO forms. However, we have long sourced the sugar we use in our products from sugarcane, which is not commercially available in GMO forms. Also, while GMO potatoes are now commercially available, we continue to source non-GMO potato flour.)
Q: How does Martin’s determine whether its product ingredients are non-GMO?
A: How we determine that our product ingredients are non-GMO depends on the ingredient. In some cases, we obtain a certification from our supplier to the effect that the ingredient they are providing us is non-GMO. In other cases, we rely upon the fact that the ingredient we source is not commercially available as a GMO (e.g., wheat flour and wheat gluten). With respect to certain (but not all) categories of ingredients that do include GMO options (e.g., oil, lecithin, and sugar), we source ingredients (sunflower oil, sunflower lecithin, and cane sugar) that are not commercially available as GMOs.
In addition to one or both of these evaluation methods, we also perform periodic Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing on our products to determine the presence of certain GMO ingredients. In such tests, we regard the product as satisfying our non-GMO standard if any GMO material for which we test accounts for less than 0.9% of the applicable ingredient. Given the limitations of such tests, however, we primarily rely upon our suppliers’ representations to us and the fact that most of our ingredients are not commercially available as GMOs.
For more information regarding the standards we use to determine whether our ingredients are non-GMO, see our answer to the question above, “What do we mean by non-GMO?”
Q: How does Martin’s non-GMO standard relate to the US GMO labeling law?
A: United States federal law, specifically the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, requires that the label for a bioengineered food must include a bioengineered food disclosure. Our non-GMO standard is consistent with the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard and the products we sell in the United States are not required to include a bioengineered food disclosure.
For more information on the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, see Part 66 of Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations (7 CFR Part 66): https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=98e82c0832417def2b4e6931f1df42fd&mc=true&node=pt7.3.66&rgn=div5.
Q: Do any of Martin’s products contain preservatives?
A: Yes. Our products contain calcium propionate, a mold inhibitor.
Q: Do any of Martin’s products contain food additives?
A: Yes. Our products contain food additives that comply with FDA regulations and other applicable laws.
For more information on food additives and preservatives, see the FDA website: http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/FoodAdditivesIngredients/ucm091048.htm