Cracking Down on Organic Food Fraud

organic food, fraud, fraudulent labeling, labels, organic labels, all-natural, naturalOrganic foods are a $16 billion a year business, and some are concerned that Department of Agriculture standards and independent third-party verification may be insufficient to prevent fraud.

But Spanish scientists have developed a method of using "nitrogen isotopic discrimination" to determine if non-organic, synthetic fertilizers were used on plants. Since organic fertilizers have nitrogen isotopes that differ from synthetic fertilizers, it is possible to distinguish produce grown using the two different methods.

USDA organic standards are widely considered to be trustworthy, because independent third-party assessors check on farm practices. The USDA recently cracked down on at least one large dairy that let its standards lapse.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Greenwashing, the practice of branding a conventionally grown or processed food as natural or organic, is becoming a pervasive problem. If the label works, then the food inside does not actually have to be organic; an impression of organic-ness is all that is required to partake in the organic goldmine.

Since true organic produce should be grown without synthetic or otherwise toxic fertilizers, being able to introduce a testing procedure that can produce reliable and verifiable results would go a long way to ensure that you’re actually getting what you believe you’re paying for. Unfortunately, as this article states, it may take a while before this method can be put to use on a wide scale, due to costs.

Until then, your best bet is still to be an informed consumer, if not a bit of a sleuth, and do your homework before buying.  

Think About It – Does the Label Make Sense? 

I’ve already warned readers about the substandard and distorted image of organic foods promoted by companies such as Wal-Mart. Last year, fraud investigators found Wal-Mart guilty of deceptive organic labeling on several products, including Silk Soy Milk and Florida Crystals Natural Sugar, as well as various fresh produce items.

Some advertising experts have expressed the belief that the organic trend may soon be coming to an end, especially with the wake-up call of products like NATURAL Cheetos hitting grocery store shelves.

The question you need to ask yourself is this: Does the label really make sense? Is it possible for Cheetos to be processed and still be considered a natural health food?

Believe me, the day you see “Organic Cheetos” in your grocery store you can kiss the value of the term “organic” goodbye. It will be absolutely worthless as a marker of healthy food, and merely serve as another manipulation tool to deceive the public and take more money from you for unhealthy products.

Other major corporations like Dean Foods, General Mills, Unilever, Mars, Kraft and Kellogg have also jumped in to reap some of the fat margins that are present in organic foods, further distorting the real meaning of organic, and all-natural.

If You Can’t Trust Them, Avoid Them

The trend of organic fraud may linger for years before enough consumers begin to demand to know more about the food products they buy.

Until then, your only solution is to seek out LOCAL suppliers of healthy food where you can actually get to know the people who are growing your food. A good start is to check out some of the suppliers I mentioned in my previous article, How to Get Inexpensive, Organic, Locally-Grown Vegetables.

Always remember, just because someone slaps an organic label on a food product, that label does not somehow magically transform a junk food into a health food. “Organic” sugar and “all-natural” processed foods are every bit as pernicious to your health as conventional sugar and processed foods.

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