Originally published August 22 2014
USDA announces crack-down on companies deceptively using 'organic' in brand names
by L.J. Devon, Staff Writer
(NaturalNews) It's a Wild West in the organic market, with some companies acting deceptively, using "organic" in their brand name when in reality their food products aren't all certified by a third party. Consumers are quick to give up on healthy food and supplements, because it's sometimes hard to trust the company's invalidated "organic" label or brand name. Organic products have to fulfill rigorous standards and go through expensive testing and procedures to be classified as truly organic. This is because a large portion of today's agriculture has been patented by genetically modified seed science, which cross-contaminates organic crop. To be truly organic in today's society, farmers have to dodge all the genetically modified cross-contamination and prove through third-party standards that their end product is indeed untarnished.
All this corruption and genetic manipulation of the food supply begs for more regulation and those regulations fall on the organic industry the most. The USDA recently announced a crack-down on the organic market, as it reins in misleading language on food product packaging that often confuses consumers with vague "organic" promises.
"Unless a food product is certified organic it cannot display, overtly, the word 'organic' on the front panel of the product," said Mark A. Kastel, Codirector at The Cornucopia Institute, an organic industry watchdog.
Newman's Own Organics inadvertently uses its brand name to confuse customersMore consumers want third-party accountability if they are going to buy organic products. The USDA stamp of approval, although not perfect, is a strong standard for companies to follow.
Some companies, like Newman's Own Organics, do not use the USDA organic label on all their products but instead rely on their brand name to sell the organic way. According to the USDA, Newman's Organics has been selling unqualified products and getting away with it by using Organics in their trade name. The Cornucopia Institute called Newman's out in 2010 with a legal complaint against their unproven use of the phrase "Made with Organic Ingredients."
This blanket "organic" statement can mislead consumers. When Cornucopia filed the original complaint against Newman's Organics, they exposed how the company markets "made with organic wheat and sugar," while refusing to tell that the more expensive ingredients are not actually organic.
"Other brands of organic cookies that have to compete on store shelves with Newman's, such as Country Choice, go to the effort and expense to procure organic ginger and all other available organic ingredients, and present a product of true integrity to the consuming public," said Cornucopia's Kastel.
What's more is that Newman's Own Organics only offer a small percentage of products that are actually certified organic with the USDA.
"When products qualify for the made with organic label, it means they have a minimum of 70% organic content. Newman's Own Organics ginger cookies didn't even contain organic ginger when we did our initial investigation in 2010. That's what I call misleading!" stated Kastel.
Cornucopia Institute spurs USDA to crack down on deceptive organic brand namesUltimately, it was the work of The Cornucopia Institute that spurred the enforcement of the USDA standards. In their initial legal complaint with Newman's Organics, they notified USDA Deputy Administrator Miles McEvoy, who receives consumer concerns from his leading post on the National Organics Program.
The result: The organic food industry, including Newman's Own Organics, will have to comply with the USDA's new policy clarifications which will enforce "fairness and equity in label use throughout the organic industry and to satisfy consumer expectations for organic products."
Kastel praised the new rule enforcement: "We applaud the USDA for making this ruling, and instructions to organic certifiers, in tightening up the labeling requirements that will protect ethical industry participants and prevent consumers from being misled when they are cruising the grocery aisles."
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