(NaturalNews) Soon, it's going to be a little more difficult to figure out just exactly what is contained in baby foods.
In an era where American consumers seem to be shifting towards more wholesome, healthy diets - the push for labeling of GM foods, fewer chemicals, more fruits and veggies - an organization that is supposed to be focused on promoting truly organic food is changing its standards to allow for the inclusion of synthetic substances in, of all things, baby food.
"When the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meets October 15-18, 2012, it will consider whether to include eight synthetic substances on the approved list for Certified Organic foods," said an Action Alert! last year from the Alliance for Natural Health. And the push continues today in 2013.
"The manufacturer of 'organic' baby formula is lobbying for their inclusion even though there are organic alternatives, they are not nutritionally necessary, and they might be difficult for the infant's body to process," the alert says. The ANH website adds that the board - which is a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture - is "even considering allowing genetically engineered vaccines for organic livestock."
But wait - Aren't there organic food standards?
What is the purpose of the NOSB? Well, here's the rub: The board is responsible for the regulation of all organic crops, and it alone determines what can be called "Certified Organic."
ANH notes that all the substances in question - ascorbyl palmitate, synthetic beta-carotene, a proprietary form of lutein, synthetic lycopene, synthetic l-carnitine, synthetic l-methionine, synthetic taurine, and nucleotides - have organic alternatives, are not nutritionally necessary additives and could be difficult for a baby to digest. Yet; amazingly, the NOSB is considering adding them to infant foods.
Moreover, the board appears to be bending its own definitions in order to approve the changes.
"In particular, ascorbyl palmitate (AP) and synthetic beta carotene are used as preservatives in infant formula to prevent them from oxidizing and becoming rancid," the ANH says. "However, organic standards state that synthetic ingredients cannot qualify as organic if their primary purpose is as a preservative."
The changes are being sought by the International Formula Council, which - according to its website - "is an international association of manufacturers and marketers of formulated nutrition products (e.g., infant formulas and adult nutritionals) whose members are predominantly based in North America." Interestingly enough, the organization says, its "members support the American Academy of Pediatrics' position that breastfeeding is the preferred method of feeding infants" if a mother is able.
The IFC; however, is attempting to circumvent the preservatives standard, the ANH asserts, "by never using the word 'preservative' in its justification, instead calling them 'antioxidants' and saying they 'prevent rancidity.'" AP says the natural health group has no nutritional value; rather, it is used solely to extend shelf life, which "is the very definition of a preservative" and "the opposite of an organic product."
More responsive to Big Food?
In the board's background materials, the group maintains that "it remains inconclusive whether or not the body actually utilizes ascorbic acid that is metabolized from ascorbic palmitate." That could make things particularly problematic for infants if it is included in baby foods.
It's important to note that synthetic substances should never be included in organic food unless it is essential and there are no organic alternatives, ANH says. Neither of those standards seems to be met in this case.
That factor may mean little to the NOSB, though. As ANH has previously pointed out, the board approved synthetic substances in the past - ARA and DHA, "both of which were genetically engineered and used toxic extraction methods."
The Alliance for Natural Health also says the USDA doesn't think much of organic food in the first place and is rather, "very responsive to big food companies."