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Food News


THIS SECTION IS FOR NEWS AND INTERESTING STORIES RELATED TO FOOD, NUTRITION AND FOOD PROCESSING. THEY ARE NOT NECESSARILY RELATED TO KOSHER BUT MAY BE OF INTEREST TO THE KOSHER CONSUMER, MANUFACTURER OR MASHGIACH.

Why is it so hard to know whether organic food is really organic

May 22, 2017: The WashingtonPost: :

"The USDA is in charge of regulating organic food, both when it is produced in the United States and when it is imported. It’s illegal to sell imported foods as organic in the United States unless the product meets USDA standards". "However, the USDA doesn’t actually administer the standards for imported foods. Instead, the certification — checking that the food meets U.S. standards - is done by USDA-recognized foreign regulators or USDA - authorized third-party organizations. This means the USDA outsources its authority to its equivalent agencies in other countries, as well as third-party certifiers. Not all countries have U.S.-recognized regulators."
In most cases the USDA is relying on third party regulators. "In practice, ensuring that imports labeled “organic” are actually organic is very hard, because global supply chains are complex and nontransparent. A number of suppliers or organizations may sell the product before they reach the final customer.This creates ample opportunity for things to go wrong. For instance, the USDA may not have any good way to know whether its accredited certifying agents have issued false certification documents to unqualified foreign suppliers. Middleman organizations can use real certification documents for products that are not actually organic."
"More regulatory oversight would make it easier for genuine organic producers abroad to sell their food to American customers."


Flaws in the ‘USDA Organic’ certification can allow ordinary products to be labeled organic

May 20, 2017: The WashingtonPost and the ColumbiaTribune: :

"A shipment of 36 million pounds of soybeans sailed late last year from Ukraine to Turkey to California. Along the way, it underwent a remarkable transformation."
"The cargo began as ordinary soybeans, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post. Like ordinary soybeans, they were fumigated with a pesticide. They were priced like ordinary soybeans, too."
"But by the time the 600-foot cargo ship carrying them to Stockton, Calif., arrived in December, the soybeans had been labeled “organic,” according to receipts, invoices and other shipping records. That switch - the addition of the “USDA Organic” designation - boosted their value by approximately $4 million, creating a windfall for at least one company in the supply chain." "About 21 million pounds of the soybeans have already been distributed to customers."
"While most food sold as “USDA Organic” is grown in the United States, at least half of some organic commodities - corn, soybeans and coffee - come from overseas, from as many as 100 countries."
The importer does not "need not trace the product back to the farm." "Farmers hire their own inspection companies; most inspections are announced days or weeks in advance and lack the element of surprise; and testing for pesticides is the exception rather than the rule.
One company testing for pesticide residues from organic tea leaves from China found 37% had more than traces of pesticide residues.
"The rise of imports has helped drop prices by more than 25 percent, hurting U.S. organic farmers, many of them small operations."

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