Home Press Frito-Lay Plant Tour, Modesto CA – 8/23/10

Frito-Lay Plant Tour, Modesto CA – 8/23/10

by TerriAnn

Why in the world would a large company like Frito-Lay invite a ‘mom’ blogger to tour a plant that makes chips – the enemy of parents that want to feed their children healthy food?!

Frito-Lay is trying to get the word out about their products to dispel misconceptions and to educate. To do that, they periodically invite media to tour their various plants across the nation. So, Frito-Lay sent a private limo (town car) to drive me the 1-1/2 to 2 hours to Modesto. I assumed we would be picking up others along the way but, no, the ride was chartered just for little ‘ol me.

I was so happy my husband had gotten me an iPhone because I was not bored at all. I had some magazines, listened to some audio books, played games, etc. Fortunately there was not a lot a traffic to I made it to the plant in good time.

We entered into the conference room where our lunch was catered. It consisted of drinks, salad (caterers forgot the dressing), various wraps, and chips, of course. In addition to me, there was another blogger, a retired dietitian, and a journalist and photographer from the local Modesto Bee. We listened to both the Frito-Lay public relations representative, Aurora Gonzales, as well as the vice president of the Modesto plant, Steve Golliher. The promotion representatives wore these adorable “I ♥ Chips” shirts and had swag prepared for us.

When I think of potato chips, I think of greasy fat, loaded with sodium, and innumerable preservatives. I even commented on the fact that though it is called a ‘potato’ chip, I was under the impression that they were basically made up of junk with one molecule of a potato in them. Wrong! Lay’s are made up of only three things: potatoes, oil, and salt. Tostito’s are made of corn, oil, and salt. That’s it.

The amount of sodium in one 1 oz. bag is less than one serving of Cheerios and about the same as one slice of bread. It’s all in the application to achieve the desired taste. Palm oil was used initially but now all their products are fried in a combination of olive oil, canola oil, corn oil, and sunflower oil. More nutritional information can be found on their Snack Sense site.

In line with using natural ingredients, Frito-Lay is dedicated in following a ‘leave no trace’ philosophy. Less than 1% of their waste is sent to landfill with a goal of 0% in the near future. They have solar rods that get direct light all day and the reflective TPO roofs provide reflective solar energy while also cooling the building inside. I thought it was interesting that all organic waste such as chips that fall on the floor, potato skins, excess salt and starch, etc. are all sold as cattle feed instead of needlessly tossed in the garbage.

I couldn’t take my camera inside the plant but here are some pictures the promotion representatives took and allowed me to share:

I was most impressed when I actually saw the potatoes peeled, washed, cut, baked, seasoned, and packaged. Yes, they really and truly are potato chips. I even saw the potatoes coming off the truck, which had come from a farm in Stockton only 30 miles away. It was fun to see the Cheetos Baked popped and to taste it unseasoned. The cornmeal was mixed with water and baked. It was just like a corn tortilla. After that it was fried and then seasoning was added – voila! Now they were Cool Ranch Doritos. Fresh, warm Doritos are so tasty!

Are they really healthy and good for you? No, they are still snacks that need to be eaten in moderation. Yet you don’t have to feel so guilty when your kids want some Lay’s, Tostitos, Doritos, Ruffles, Sun Chips, etc. At least I won’t while eating the dozen or so bags I brought home with me.

Thanks to the team that gave a great plant tour!

Disclosure: I was provided with transportation and a plant tour at no cost in order to facilitate review. The thoughts expressed here are 100% my honest opinion.

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Alison August 29, 2010 - 5:23 am

It looks like that was such a fun time! Yummy for Cooler Ranch Doritos! Sun chips are the best! Hunter has a bag of ruffles for himself that we got 2 weeks ago. He eats it slowly, which is nice!

I love watching shows on TV of how they make foods! And you got to see it. Jealous! 🙂

TerriAnn August 29, 2010 - 11:58 am

Glad your son doesn’t gobble it all down like some kids. It really was a different experience seeing it in real life – exciting.

Sippy Cup Mom August 29, 2010 - 7:00 am

Wow, what a fantastic and insightful post! Glad you posted this and am going to share with my husband. I assumed the same things you did!

TerriAnn August 29, 2010 - 11:59 am

Thanks so much. I told them to let me know if they ever need an ambassador 🙂 I’ve been telling everyone how chips are not as bad as many think!

Fedrico October 27, 2010 - 11:28 am

What do I need to do in order to tour the same plant?

Layne May 8, 2012 - 12:26 pm

Hello. My friend and I are doing a project on a frito lay product. We read your article and were wondering if we could set up a telephone interview with you so that we could learn more about your trip.

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