BC-based company the first distributor in North America to take this step
Photo: The delicious and healthy differences between a Hippie cookie and others.
Left Coast Naturals, a BC-based natural foods manufacturer and distributor representing nearly 30 brands, 200 bulk foods and three house brands (Hippie Foods, Skeet & Ike’s and Left Coast Bulk Foods), is taking the industry lead in ensuring its entire catalogue will be free from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by December 31, 2015. Through the development of its policy and implementation plan, and with guidance from the Non-GMO Project Standard, Left Coast Naturals will vet and phase out any items that contain GMOs by the deadline.
The Burnaby-based company has a nationwide reach and a track record as a trailblazer in sustainability and environmental issues. “We feel this is the direction in which our industry needs to go – in which we all need to go. Someone had to step up first – why not us?” says Ian Walker, President of Left Coast Naturals. “Our products are all about staying true to the way nature made them. GMOs stand for the opposite. This is something we will not support.”
Nature’s Path, another BC-based, sustainable food company, has played a strong advocacy role on the Non-GMO front and congratulates Left Coast Naturals for taking a stand. “As a local, organic food company committed to the Non-GMO movement, we’re thrilled to see our friends at Left Coast Naturals show such dedication to keeping GMOs out of our food supply,” says Arjan Stephens, Executive VP of Sales and Marketing at Nature’s Path. “It’s proactive policies like these and the actions of conscious consumers that are making BC a hotbed for growing transparency in the nation’s food system.”
For over 15 years, Left Coast Naturals has asked its vendors to provide letters confirming non-GMO status. Today, as more commercial crops are being genetically modified and public concern about GMO issues grows, the company finds that new tools, including third party verification and lab testing, can offer definitive confirmation of non-GMO status. Left Coast Naturals recognizes it’s now possible to offer a deeper level of transparency to its customers and more accurately follow the company’s position on avoiding GMO ingredients.
Effective immediately, all new products developed by Left Coast Naturals, or brought into its distribution service, will need to prove their non-GMO status. For items already being distributed by Left Coast Naturals, strict timelines have been set for weeding out GMOs from both its bulk foods and packaged grocery catalogues. Certified Organic items will be given special consideration, as Certified Organic standards do not permit the use of GMO inputs. Left Coast Naturals will work with current vendors whose products include suspected GMO ingredients to develop a plan for transitioning to non-GMO ingredients by the 2015 deadline.
All in-house products will be 100% non-GMO by December, 2014. As a further level of vigilance, any house brand product with ingredients deemed “high risk” of containing GMOs, e.g. corn or canola, will be verified by the Non-GMO Project, regardless of their Certified Organic status.
Left Coast Naturals will publish progress reports in July 2014 and December 2014 to share learnings and update their progress by category.