US consumers are misled about organic safety

I normally stay away from the organic nonsense because it’s about lifestyle, not safety.

organic-manure2But John Block of The Des Moines Register writes that every day millions of shoppers are paying out as much as 50 or 100 percent more to buy organic foods for themselves and their families. I have friends who make these choices because they have no reason to question claims on labels, in advertising and on social media that organic foods are safer, healthier and more nutritious.

One thing they will not read on any label is a new finding from Academics Review, a group of scientists dedicated to testing popular claims against peer-reviewed science.

The scientists’ conclusion based on U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported recall information: Organic foods are four to eight times more likely to be recalled than conventional foods for safety issues like bacterial contamination. Nor will consumers see anywhere a reference to the body of peer-reviewed research finding that organic foods are no more nutritious than foods produced by conventional agriculture.

As Academics Review founder Bruce Chassy, a professor of food microbiology at the University of Illinois, recently reported to a professional trade association, not only is the federal government failing to require that the organic food industry state these risks to consumers. It also allows organic companies to make unfounded safety claims that, if they were made by any other industry, would attract the ire of federal regulators.

no_bullshitLacking such scrutiny, the organic industry appears to have adopted “black marketing” against conventionally grown foods as its core strategy. The Natural Marketing Institute admitted as much when it reported that “the safety message is a clear driver” of organic sales. A marketing executive for a major organic company was little blunter: “You can, and perhaps should, lead with fear as an industry.”

The industry does, in fact, lead with fear. The websites, social media, product packaging, marketing materials and annual reports of organic food companies are full of fear-based advertising against conventional farming. Even more hysterical claims about conventional foods are pushed in food scare campaigns run by NGOs funded by the organic foods industry, as well as by allied natural food and health companies.

In the midst of such claims, where do consumers turn for reliable information? They trust federal regulators to give them the straight scoop based on science. Yet even here, the federal government is passively complicit in allowing unscientific claims to mislead consumers. Exhibit A in federal complicity is the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified Organic label.

USDA’s research shows that more than 70 percent of consumers are likely to believe a food is safer, more nutritious or of higher quality if it bears the organic label. In fact, all the label signifies is that a given food has been grown, handled and processed without many of the modern techniques of conventional agriculture.

The label does not even mean that a certain food was grown without pesticides. Organic foods are routinely produced with certain kinds of “organic” pesticides. Meanwhile, organic recalls due to bacterial contamination are ballooning along with the expanding market for organic food.

In short, the federal government is strict about science, labeling and claims for all industries except one. The marketers of organic food are allowed to make scientifically false and misleading claims about the safety and wholesomeness of conventional food, while their products are increasingly likely to be recalled for safety reasons.

Federal agencies have a statutory responsibility to crack down on untruthful and misleading claims in food marketing. They also have a responsibility to warn consumers about real dangers.

The findings by Academics Review raise a number of questions federal regulators should have to answer.

– Will the USDA, FDA and Federal Trade Commission enforce existing rules against misleading advertising when marketers misuse the organic label to vilify competitors?

– Will regulators regard the sponsored attacks on conventional agriculture as advertising, subject to standards of truth?

– Will the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration investigate what is behind the frighteningly high recall record of organic food?

– And will the government perform more research on the safety of organic foods?

This is no longer a matter of who wins at the checkout counter. For many vulnerable people, it is a matter of safety. They just don’t know it yet.

JOHN R. BLOCK was U.S. secretary of agriculture from 1981 to 1986. The lifelong farmer now is senior policy adviser to the law firm of Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC in Washington, D.C. Contact: jblock@ofwlaw.com.

‘I pity the fool’ 29 in Canada, 17 in US sick with Salmonella in various sprouted chia seed powder products

There are now 29 people in Canada and 17 in the U.S. now sick with Salmonella from various organic sprouted chia seed powder products, up from zero and nine, respectively just a week ago.

chia.mr.tThere’s a bunch of products from a bunch of companies. As of June 2 in the U.S., 17 ill persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Newport (12 persons) or Salmonella Hartford (5 persons) have been reported from 10 states.

Always a step behind: chia pet seed powder sickens 9 in Canada

On May 28, 2014, Navitas Naturals issued a voluntary recall for organic sprouted chia seed powder products in the U.S.

No mention was made of sick people.

chia.seed.powderOn May 29, 2014, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control announced at least 12 people were sick with Salmonella from the chia stuff.

On May 30, 2014, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Advantage Health Matters and Back 2 the Garden were recalling various products containing sprouted chia seeds due to possible Salmonella contamination, and that “this recall was triggered by findings by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) during its investigation into a foodborne illness outbreak. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. … There have been reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.”

Informative.

On May 31, 2014, the Public Health Agency of Canada announced that nine people were sick in three provinces, linked to chia stuff.

‘Superfood Co’ super-sucks with Salmonella on sprouted chia powder

Navitas Naturals, the Superfood Company is voluntarily recalling products which contain Organic Sprouted Chia Powder due to possible health risks related to Salmonella contamination. “We have chosen to voluntarily recall products containing Organic Sprouted Chia Powder with the goal of utmost safety for our consumers” stated Zach Adelman, Navitas Naturals CEO.

salm.chia.sprout.powderThe affected products were distributed nationally and include:

Navitas Naturals Organic Sprouted Chia Powder, 8oz, UPC 858847000369 with best buy dates from 04/30/2015 through 09/05/2015

Navitas Naturals Omega Blend Sprouted Smoothie Mix, 8oz, UPC 858847000314 with best buy dates from 07/29/2015 through 09/19/2015

Williams-Sonoma Omega 3 Smoothie Mixer, 8 oz, SKU 506436 with best buy dates from 09/12/2015 through 10/02/2015

No other Navitas Naturals products are affected by this recall.

Consumers who have purchased this item are urged to not eat the product, and to dispose of it or return it to the store where it was originally purchased.

Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses.

The company is working closely with FDA and California Department of Public Health on this issue. “Ensuring the premium quality of the superfoods we provide is our highest priority,” said Adelman.” We stand behind the safety and integrity of our products and their valuable superfood nutrients,” confirmed Adelman.

Customers with questions or who would like product replacements or refunds may contact 888-886-3879 between 8:00-4:30 PST, Monday through Friday.

Defunct peanut plant to be auctioned next week after 2012 Salmonella outbreak

In fall, 2012, 41 people in 20 states contracted Salmonella from natural and organic peanut butter, produced by Sunland Inc. of Portales, New Mexico, and primarily through purchases at Trader Joe’s.

By Nov. 2012, Sunland was eager to reopen, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had other ideas, and filed a permanent injunction against Sunland.

In May, 2013, Sunland announced it was back in production and company officials said their barf-inducing coveted natural and organic butters could be back on store shelves sunland_20120925084929_320_240within a month.

By Oct. 2013 they were bankrupt.

Food safety can do that to an operation.

Now, the plant is headed to the auction block.

According to the Associated Press, the reserve price for all bidders in Thursday’s auction is $18.5 million. That’s the amount California-based Ready Roast Nut Co. already has offered to buy the defunct Sunland Inc. plant.

The sale seemed imminent when a bankruptcy trustee backed Ready Roast’s offer. But the Clovis News Journal reports another potential buyer has emerged.

A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge has scheduled a hearing Friday to accept or reject the best bid in the auction.

Safe because it’s organic? Link found between moose meat and Toxoplasma in unborn baby

A woman in Alaska who ate a medium-rare moose steak at week 26 of her pregnancy gave birth prematurely at 34 weeks because of a toxoplasmosis infection.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, Lauren Hamm’s 34-week moose-steaksprenatal checkup was only supposed to be 10 minutes.

But she left the hospital 96 hours later. Her son, born prematurely, didn’t leave the neonatal intensive care unit for another three weeks.

Doctors said the meat was infected with Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that can be found in under-cooked game meat. It causes toxoplasmosis, an infection that brings mild flu-like symptoms, like swollen glands, in adults but can be deadly to an unborn child. Hamm’s story was published in the September issue of Alaska Medicine.

Doctors said Hamm had the infection and passed it on to her unborn baby, Bennett. He was born on Dec. 13, 2011, with a heart rate of 200 beats per minute, Hamm said. He had fluid around his organs and lesions on his eyes and brain. Hamm said 45 minutes after Bennett was born, his heart rate was still irregular. Doctors used a defibrillator and shocked his heart back into rhythm.

“I had a prayer in my heart that everything was going to be OK,” she said.

Her doctor, Nelson Isada, a perinatologist at Providence Alaska Medical Center, was the senior author of the article.

Hamm said Isada wondered why Bennett’s heart rate was so irregular, and he ran as many blood tests as he could on her newborn son. moose.alaskaAccording to the article, after Isada found the lesions on Bennett’s eyes, he started to piece together that the baby might have toxoplasmosis.

Isada later tested the moose meat from the family’s freezer and found that it tested positive for Toxoplasma gondii.

According to the article, humans can get Toxoplasma gondii in three ways: by eating under-cooked meat that contains the cysts where the parasite lives, by a mother during gestation, or ingesting the cysts while they are opening in foods, soil, water or a cat’s litter box.

He said women who are pregnant can eat moose meat but they should make sure the meat is cooked all the way through. They should also cook beef, lamb and veal roasts or steaks to 145 degrees and pork, ground meat and wild game to 160 degrees.

Hamm said her husband shot the moose on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, and the family ate the steaks medium-rare, like they always do. She was 26 weeks pregnant.

She said she never considered it unsafe to eat moose meat, because it was organic.

Now, at 22 months old, baby Bennett’s lesions have healed and he is healthy.

What about the sprouts? ‘Organic’ cafe misled with veggie burger

Cancer sucks. So does foodborne illness, like for the 53 people, primarily women, who died in Germany in 2011 from eating raw sprouts.

A holistic wellness coach who says she felt “dirty” after eating a non-organic veggie burger at a Byron Bay cafe has apologized after an online “rant” about the food she was served.

‘Wellness warrior’ Jessica Ainscough vented on her blog after eating a burger she believed was 100 per cent organic, only to later discover it was organic.burger.jun.13‘not totally’ chemical-free.

The holistic health coach, who was in Byron Bay last week, follows a strict organic diet after overcoming cancer without using modern medicine.

In a June 18 post titled ‘BEWARE OF ORGANIC CAFES THAT LIE TO US’, Ms Ainscough said she was ‘pissed off’ that Manna Haven Cafe falsely claimed to be ‘vegan, raw and organic’.

The 26-year-old said she had initially been excited to find somewhere ‘safe’ for lunch and ordered the veggie Burger thinking it was organic.

The not-for-profit cafe’s menu describes its Big Burger as being ‘cancer fighting rather than cancer causing’ and vegan, low glycaemic index and a superfood.

“If a cafe claims to be organic and charge prices that reflect this, we should be able to trust that what they’re serving us is just that. Otherwise, it’s false advertising and on par with green washing.”

One of the cafe’s founders Anita Carvill saying she was shocked by the backlash.

“There was nowhere that said the burger was 100 per cent organic so I’m not sure how she got that impression,” Ms Carvill said.

“The options on the sign are just options, there is no false advertising.

Ms. Ainscough respoinded that, “The word ‘organic’ is the green light that tells us it’s safe to eat. It doesn’t matter if some of the ingredients are organic – if they’re mixed with conventional ingredients the whole dish is rendered poisonous to those of us who have to be so pedantic for the sake of our health and lives.”

Then avoid the sprouts. They tend to make people barf.

87 now sick; Townsend Farms has said nothing about its food safety procedures

As the frozen berry Hepatitis A outbreak reached 87 confirmed sick people, a former U.S. Department of Agriculture Inspection contract organic inspector said berry.blend.hep.athe outbreak was preventable.

Most are.

“I was a contract inspector under the USDA’s national organic programs for five years from 1998 until 2003,” said Mischa Popoff. And he fingers uncomposted manure rather than failures in human handwashing.

Organic cherry tomatoes recalled because of Salmonella in US

Alderman Farms Sales Corporation, Boynton Beach, Florida is recalling one pint containers of Certified Organic Cherry Tomatoes because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

This recall notice is being issued out of an abundance of caution.

An Alderman Farms’ wholesale customer in Florida purchased 10 cartons containing 12 one-pint containers of the affected cherry tomatoes on 5/22/13. aldermanThere were no other cherry tomatoes sold from this lot.

The cherry tomatoes are packaged in square-shaped clear plastic clamshell containers labeled as Alderman Farms Organic Cherry Tomato, UPC number 6317195594, with a net weight of one pint and an estimated shelf life of 10 days. The carton lot number affected by the recall is 13269. The clamshell packages are distributed in cartons labeled Alderman Farms. 

No illnesses have been associated with the product.

Alderman Farms became aware of the contamination after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration collected a sample of the cherry tomatoes located at Alderman Farms’ Packing facility located in Boynton Beach, Florida. The sample of lot number 13269 found the cherry tomatoes to be contaminated with Salmonella. Alderman Farms is investigating the source of the contamination. Alderman Farms conducted an independent test on the above mentioned lot and it was found to be negative of Salmonella.

 

Duh: Consumers finally figure out organic is an excuse to charge more

 

The first time I went to Amy’s house, I didn’t ask where the bedroom was, I looked in her fridge. If you invite me over I’ll do the same thing.

She had some organic lettuce mix (and this was in 2005 before the tragic 2006 outbreak on transitional organic spinach that killed at least vomit.toiletfour and sickened 200.

I asked her why she had that shit.

She said she thought it was healthier.

So do most people.

And that‘s why microbial food safety should be marketed at retail so consumers can choose.

But it seems other Americans are figuring this out for themselves.

More than half of Americans think an organic label is just an excuse to charge higher prices even though more people are concerned about the environment, according to a new Harris Poll.

The March survey found that 59 percent of respondents thought the organic label was just a business strategy. Men were the most skeptical, with 63 percent agreeing with the statement versus 54 percent of women.

The poll also found that although 38 percent of people are worried about the state of the environment (up from 31 percent last year), only 3 out of 10 people are willing to pay more for green products. Americans were divided on how easy it was to be green, with 49 percent saying it was “difficult” and 47 percent saying it was “easy.”