25 October 2002
ORGANIC FOODS MAY BE MORE CONTAMINATION-PRONE
The article below is entirely unsurprising given that the new USDA national
organic regulations which have recently come into effect (see http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/Consumers/brochure.html)
have generated a lot of positive press comment in the US.
Even Dan Glickman, former secretary of agriculture in the Clinton administration, has been poining in the chorus:
"For the first time, consumers will understand clearly what the organic label means, and farmers will know what standards they have to meet to receive the label. The public will have a clear choice of foods produced in accordance with practices that eliminate pesticides and herbicides and genetically modified organisms."
Headlines this morning such as "Consumers should be wary of organically grown foods - USDA" should help offset the damage.
For more on who's behind the organic attacks:
USDA: Organic foods may be more contamination-prone
Last Updated: 2002-10-24 16:11:49 -0400 (Reuters Health)
DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) - The head of food security of the U. S. Department of Agriculture Thursday said consumers should be wary of organically grown foods.
"We must remember that bacteria and parasites are also all-natural," Elsa Murano, under secretary for food safety, said at the World Food Prize symposium that draws hundreds of researchers and government officials from around the globe.
"Foods that have fewer or no preservatives can pose a challenge to consumers if they don't know what all-natural implies and how these foods should be handled and prepared."
Her remarks come on the heels of the introduction of new organic food labels regulated by the USDA telling consumers which products are free of pesticides and transgenic crops.
The USDA said the labels were a marketing tool and not a statement about food safety, nutrition or quality.
Before the labels debuted on Monday, the term organic was defined under a hodgepodge of state, regional and private certifier standards, creating confusion about its meaning.
"As a microbiologist, I know that preservatives are used in foods for a reason ... to preserve food against the growth of microorganisms," Murano said during a question-answer session.
"Perhaps there's not the evidence to show that one (method of growing food) is safer than the other .... When you don't have those preservatives, you have to be aware of the fact that that's going to cost you something," she added.
"That's what I think is the challenge for the food industry, especially those folks who produce organic foods and all-natural foods and so forth, to make sure they produce them and process them in such a way that it will not reduce the safety of those products," she said.
The organic industry is the fastest growing U.S. agricultural sector, expanding by 20 percent annually.
Sales of organic foods are expected to reach $11 billion in 2003, more than double the amount 5 years ago, according to the Organic Trade Organization.
Copyright 2002, Reuters News Service
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