Just a few food-related items in the news that have crossed my countertop recently:
- “Organic” doesn’t necessarily mean 100% organic
- Did you know that in order to be labeled “organic” in the USA, a product only needs to be 95% organic? ‘Tis true. Turns out, the remaining 5% can be non-organic, but it can only be made up of items that are on the USDA National Organic Program‘s National List of acceptable non-organic products. This would include stuff like vitamins and minerals, for instance.
What brought this to my attention is that in a recent lawsuit (Segedie v. The Hain Celestial Group, Inc.) the plaintiffs claimed some of the defendant’s products, certified and labeled “organic,” contained ingredients which were not organic and not on the National List. It’s still playing out in the courts, so it remains to be see what will come of these claims. I pass along the information for those (like me) who didn’t realize that there could be any non-organic stuff in a product labeled as “organic.”
- “Natural,” might not mean what you think it does, either
- A group of consumers has filed a lawsuit against Inko’s Tea, claiming the company’s tea products are advertised as “100% Natural,” when they contain ascorbic acid (a preservative). The plaintiffs acknowledge ascorbic acid originates in nature, but characterize it as “a non-natural, highly chemically processed ingredient,” and therefore (in their opinion) no longer appropriate for a product labeled as “100% Natural.”
This one’s also still working it’s way through the courts, though, so we’ll have to see how things shake out. In the meantime, it’s important to keep in mind that no regulatory body has issued any rules in the USA on the use of the word “natural.” It’s one of those words like “wholesome,” which sounds good, but doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Buyer beware.
In related news, Kashi (a division of Kellogg Co.) has proposed a settlement in a case claiming their products were advertised as “All Natural” even though they contained genetically modified organisms (GMOs). If the settlement is approved by the judge, those with proof of purchase would be able to get a full refund, while those without proof of purchase would be able to claim $0.55 per package, with a maximum of $3.99 million in claims to be paid. Kashi will also remove the “All Natural” label from any products containing GMOs.
- Those supplements might not be as bad as you think
- You may have read the recent headlines about how the New York State Attorney General’s office supposedly tested a bunch of herbal supplements from a number of companies (including GNC, Wal-Mart, Walgreens and Target) and found they contained very little, if any, of the ingredients on the label. Turns out, the AG’s test methodology and conclusions were, (ahem) “flawed,” and those supplements probably do, in fact, contain exactly what the label says. GNC, in particular, has also been very aggressive in getting their products re-tested by independent labs and certifying they do meet all industry standards.
I’m not saying necessarily that ginkgo biloba, St. John’s wort, ginseng, valerian root, garlic, echinacea, and saw palmetto actually offer all the health benefits their proponents claim. (Also not saying they don’t — I take garlic myself, and my hubby swears by valerian root.) I’m just saying that if you’re taking these supplements, you might not need to worry as much as you may have thought about whether they actually contain the stuff they say.