The case of the labels warning of genetically modified wheat found on Kraft Mac & Cheese boxes in Britain has been solved.
The problem, it seems, is that Kraft does not use genetically engineered wheat, which is not commercially available, according to a spokeswoman. So the label’s origins perplexed Kraft officials.
“We have no authorized distributor there,” said the spokeswoman, Lynne Galia, referring to Britain.
“Anyone implying that G.E. wheat is in Kraft Mac & Cheese or any of our products is wrong,” Ms. Galia added, noting that Kraft buys wheat from Canada and the United States.
“G.M.O. Declaration,” the label states, referring to genetically modified organisms. “Made from genetically modified wheat. (May contains G.M.O.)”
While the United States does not require the labeling of food products containing genetically engineered ingredients, food manufacturers in the European Union must do so, and many big companies reformulate their products using conventional crops to avoid the requirement.
Flo Wrightson Cross, a student in north London, was the person who first posted the photo to Facebook, after discovering the G.M.O. label at a Tesco store in Ponders End where she bought the food.
She posted it, she said, because it also carried a warning about the possible health effects of the yellow dyes used.
“I like Macaroni & Cheese and I follow it on Facebook,” Ms. Wrightson Cross said in a telephone interview. “I saw a lot of people talking about these additives and saying they wished they could see what labels with the warning looked like. So I took a picture and posted it.”
She said that a lot of people reposted the photo, but that she was surprised by some of the comments. “Many of them talked about the warning on the additives, but there were also a lot talking about the G.M.O. statement on the label,” she said. “I realized then that was also a big issue.”
For its part, Tesco was as baffled by the label as Kraft, indicating that a distributor, Innovative Bites, had slapped on the warning. Innovative Bites did not respond to calls or e-mails.
A Tesco spokeswoman said that the warning on about genetically modified wheat was “only precautionary; it doesn’t say the product does contain such wheat.” But the label is ambiguous as to the product’s contents: it says it is “made from” and “may contain” the wheat.
She said Tesco intended to get in touch with Kraft about the issue.
Ms. Wrightson Cross’s post was picked up by a food blogger who has tangled with Kraft over the use of yellow dyes, who fueled a broader circle of suspicion. Vani Hari, who writes the popular foodbabe.com blog and was first to note the language on the label in a post last week, questioned Kraft’s explanation.
“Kraft having no knowledge about the export seems odd to me,” she said. “Also, if Kraft says they are not using G.M.O. wheat, has anyone tested their wheat? Or would they clarify which G.M.O.’s they are in fact using?”
Ms. Wrightson Cross said she was confused by the hubbub her photo created. “I bought quite a few boxes of Macaroni & Cheese in the last couple of months or so — about 20, I’d say,” she said. “I know that it has these effects on people because I’ve followed the things written about the additives, but I eat it in moderation and I haven’t stopped buying it.
“I like it,” she added.