I blogged about this recently, and it looks like we’re one step closer to “primarily organic” food. The USDA moves forward in its plan to sneak in 5% non-organic content into organic food. Note that with fat-heavy ingredients such as fish oil, even 5% can carry a significant punch of bioaccumulative nasties including pesticides, PCBs, mercury, etc. But that should be an isolated case. Fish oil made for EU consumption is already tested extensively for these compounds. So, most manufacturers should already be producing the clean stuff. In the end, the health effects of this change are likely to be very minor.
Couldn’t they just call it 95% organic? Can’t we be trusted to do basic math? it could be a competition. “My bar is 97% organic, is yours only 95??” – Truth in labeling!
The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave interim approval Friday to a controversial proposal to allow 38 nonorganic ingredients to be used in foods carrying the “USDA Organic” seal. But the agency also allowed an extra 60 days for public comment.
Manufacturers of organic foods had pushed for the change, arguing that the 38 items are minor ingredients in their products and are difficult to find in organic form. But consumers opposed to the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, antibiotics and growth hormones in food production bombarded the USDA with more than 1,000 complaints last month.
“If the label says organic, everything in that food should be organic,” wrote Kimberly Wilson of Austin, Texas, in one typical comment. “If they put something in the food that isn’t organic, they shouldn’t be able to call it organic. No exception.”
The list approved Friday includes 19 food colorings, two starches, hops, sausage casings, fish oil, chipotle chili pepper, gelatin, celery powder, dill weed oil, frozen lemongrass, Wakame seaweed, Turkish bay leaves and whey protein concentrate.
Manufacturers will be allowed to use conventionally grown versions of these ingredients in foods carrying the USDA seal, provided that they can’t find organic equivalents and that nonorganics comprise no more than 5% of the product.