Organic food contamination?

It’s no wonder some consumers don’t trust certifications and endorsements; even if the tick of approval is from a government department.

The United States Department of Agriculture recently announced a proposal to allow an added 38 non-organic ingredients in products bearing the “USDA Organic” seal; and some of them rather questionable.

Some of the ingredients to be allowed are intestines from animals raised on feed that has undergone intensive chemical treatment (fertilizers and pesticides), synthetic hormones and antibiotics; fish oil that may contain toxins such as PCBs and mercury and food colorings that might include synthetic solvents, preservatives or additives.

To my way of thinking, foods marketed and endorsed as being organic containing these types of ingredients are contaminated and very misleading. It’s one thing to state “contains organic ingredients” or “95% organic”, quite another to simply state “organic” – it leads the consumer to believe it’s totally organic.

This decision from the USDA will devalue their organic program also undermine the efforts of many companies who may not produce 100% organic products, but do their best to keep the non-organic ingredients they do use as healthy and environmentally friendly as possible.

If the USDA proposal bothers you; there’s still time to do something about it.  The USDA has extended public comments for approximately 50 days from now while giving interim approval to the proposal. The Organic Consumers Association has a letter already drafted that you can attach your name to and submit to the USDA via email – it only takes a minute to do.

Aside from this, something else to be aware of is products carrying the “USDA Organic” label only need to contain 95 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt). Any product carrying the USDA organic label is required to identify each organically produced ingredient in the ingredients listing, so it’s always wise to check that before purchasing. If you’re wanting 100% organic foods – that’s the key – look for the term “100% organic” on the label.

For further information about navigating the USDA organic labeling maze, visit their National Organic Program Consumer Site.