Hersheys uses GMO ingredients in their chocolate products


by Catherine Haug, February 8, 2013 (image, right, used by permission from the Organic Consumers Association)

Do you eat/drink Hershey’s chocolate products? Do your children or grandchildren? If so, you might want to retying this. How about Dagoba, which is now owned by Hersheys. From the Organic Consumers Association:

“The Hershey’s kisses and chocolate bars sold here in the U.S. are loaded with cheap genetically modified beet sugar and genetically engineered soy lecithin. And where does the giant chocolate maker get its cacao? From regions where child labor and workers’ rights abuses run rampant.”

If this disturbs you, consider signing on to boycott Hershey’s. Go to Sweet Revenge: Boycott Hershey’s and Dagoba (1) to read more and sign the petition.

Dagoba may not (yet) be using GMO sugar and lecithin, but it is now owned by Hershey’s, so they will feel the pain if the boycott of Dagoba and other Hershey’s products is widespread.

Read on for more on GMO sugar beets and GMO soy and its byproducts; and for more about why you should be concerned about GMO.

GMO sugar beets

Yes, sugar from sugar beets is now GMO. You can spot this type of sugar of the shelf because the bag/box just says “sugar” while that made from sugar cane is not GMO (yet), and says “cane sugar” on the bag/box. But it isn’t so easy to spot GMO beet sugar in processed foods like candy. My take: if it says just “sugar” you can bet it’s probably beet sugar and it’s GMO.

GMO soy and its byproducts

GMO soy lecithin is harder to spot because it is not a whole-food. It is a byproduct of the soy oil industry, leftover from the high-heat, high-pressure process that  separates the oil from the soy bean. And yes, when you buy a bag of lecithin from the health food store, it is from GMO soy unless it specifically says “Non-GMO” or Non-GE” soy on the label.

The same goes for when it is added to processed foods. If the label says “lecithin” or  it is extremely likely it comes from GMO soy. It is very unlikely it comes from egg or non-GMO soy unless it specifically says so on the label, because lecithin from GMO soy is way cheaper.

Generally, if the label says “soy” anything, I avoid it. Soy is used to make lots of ingredients including lecithin and oil, soy milk and other dairy substitutes. And it doesn’t stop with food products. Soy is also used in many cosmetics and lotions!

Did you know that the commercial meats (beef, pork chicken, turkey), as well as dairy and eggs at your grocer come from animals likely fed a grain & soy feed diet, that is likely GMO? See GMO Compass: Soy is Everywhere (3) for more on this. Your best bet is to buy these foods from local farmers & ranchers; you can ask them what they feed their animals. See Farm Hands Map (Flathead) (4) to locate local foods.

Here are soy ingredients in common processed foods (2):

  • Hydrolyzed soy protein (HSP)
  • Mono- and di-glycerides
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate)
  • Soy (albumin, cheese, fiber, grits, milk, nuts, sprouts, yogurt, ice cream, pasta)
  • Soy lecithin
  • Soy protein (concentrate, hydrolyzed, isolate)
  • Soybean oil
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Textured vegetable protein (TVP)

Here are common soy ingredients in Asian foods (2):

  • Bean curd
  • Bean sprouts
  • Edamame (fresh soybeans)
  • Kinako
  • Miso (fermented soybean paste)
  • Natto
  • Nimame
  • Okara
  • Shoyu
  • Soy sauce
  • Soya
  • Soybean (curds, granules)
  • Tamari
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu (dofu, kori-dofu)
  • Yuba

What’s so bad about GMO?

I’m glad you asked. You will find answers in my earlier articles:

How can I spot GMO products in other foods?

I”m glad you asked about this too. Download a copy of the Non-GMO Shopping Guide. from the Institute of Responsible Technology, and take it with you to the store when you shop – or keep it in your car so you don’t have to remember to take it with you. You might consider checking the online version periodically, as new GMO ingredients are approved regularly, affecting more and more food products.

See Non-GMO Shopping Guide (pdf). This link is also on our homepage in the GMO section of the links column on the right side of the page.


  1. Sweet Revenge: Boycott Hershey’s and Dagoba
  2. List of soy Ingredients to avoid when following a soy-free diet
  3. GMO Compass: Soy is Everywhere
  4. Farm Hands Map (Flathead) whoisyourfarmer.org or nourishtheflathead.org/map/

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