Friday, January 25, 2008

Certification of Organic Cotton

When I looked for organic cotton clothes for example, many times I did not find any certification labels accompanying the statement so I am not so sure that the claim is certainly true. Certification of organic cotton production adds credibility to the final product, assures the buyer of the organic status of the product and also encourages payment of premium prices to farmers who engage in organic practices. When a producer is "certified organic," an independent organization has verified that the company meets or exceeds defined organic standards. Certified organic farms are inspected regularly and must maintain comprehensive records of their production methods. After a little search I found that there are many programs (more or less credible) which regulate the organic cotton. Here is a list with the most recognized ones:
The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) - produced basic standards covering organic production and also textile processing which provide a minimum basis upon which standards in many countries have been based.
The International Organic Accreditation Service (IOAS)
The Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA)
KRAV - in Europe and is a memebr of IFOAM
SCAL - in Europe

I have also found that there is a difference between Organic cotton and Certified Organic cotton.
Organic refers to the standards employed in the production of the raw agricultural products while Certified Organic means that the cotton is untreated by synthetic chemicals and toxic dyes and is manufactured under highest standards to ensure they retain their organic integrity.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

22 Hair Dye Chemicals Banned in E.U. and Allowed in U.S.

Hair dyes are not regulated in the U.S. The industry claims that the chemicals used in hair dyes have undergone rigorous safety studies and found to pose no risk to human health. Regarding the same matter, E.U. which is more conservative is adopting the approach “better safe than sorry” and banned 22 chemicals found to be linked with bladder cancer. If you would like to read more about it follow this link: European Commission bans 22 hair dye substances to increase consumer safety.

In case the link breaks and you're in a mood for reading chemical names, here's the list:
6-Methoxy-2,3-Pyridinediamine and its HCl salt
4,5-Diamino-1-Methylpyrazole and its HCl salt
4,5-Diamino-1-((4-Chlorophenyl)Methyl)-1H-Pyrazole Sulfate
4-Methoxytoluene-2,5-Diamine and its HCl salt
5-Amino-4-Fluoro-2-Methylphenol Sulfate
N,N-Dimethyl-2,6-Pyridinediamine and its HCl salt
N-(2-Methoxyethyl)-p-phenylenediamine and its HCl salt
2,4-Diamino-5-methylphenetol and its HCl salt
3,4-Diaminobenzoic acid
2-Aminomethyl-p-aminophenol and its HCl salt
Solvent Red 1 (CI 12150)
Acid Orange 24 (CI 20170)
Acid Red 73 (CI 27290)

Meat and Milk from Animal Clones – Safe?

FDA released a new report on the Safety of Food from Animal Clones where it says that the meat and milk from cloned animals are safe to eat and will be introduced on the market in the future. I just imagined myself looking at my steak and thinking at a crowd of cows all looking the same, having the same look, etc. I am losing my appetite completely. Moreover, the FDA will not require labeling milk and meat derived from cloned animals because the agency determined safety concerns are no different than traditional food. This will made me either starting to buy organic meat or become a vegetarian. USDA did not specify anything about the cloned animals when they established the standards for organic meat but I hope in the future will do and disqualify it (they currently have a "no GMOs" policy for plants(see Organic production), it's likely it will be extended to meat).

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What organic label means?

What really means the organic label when we refer to food? Many people are spending a quite substantial amount of money just to buy organic. Just having the word organic written on the label and suddenly that product becomes attractive. But not always, the organic label means that the product is organic. Organic means that food producers must meet very strict standards. To assure that a particular label is correctly placed and the product is organic it has to have the USDA organic seal on it.

What labels to look for:

Organic: the product is at least 95 percent organic. The word "organic" and a small sticker version of the USDA Organic seal appears on vegetables or pieces of fruit, on packages of meat, cartons of milk or eggs, cheese, and other single-ingredient foods. Exception: The seafood is not regulated by USDA, therefore an organic label placed on these products is meaningless.

100% Organic: the product is 100% organic which means is free of chemical ingredients and the production of them has to meet federal standards.

Made with organic ingredients: at least 70% of the ingredients are organic.

Contains organic ingredients: less than 70% of the ingredients are organic.

Attention! Only 100% Organic and Organic foods are allowed to use the USDA Organic Seal.

Misleading labels:

Natural and All Natural: This label is not identical with Organic. There is no standard definition for this term which means that it is not regulated by any federal institution. The only exception is applied to meat and poultry products - defined by USDA as “not containing any artificial flavoring, colors, chemical preservatives, or synthetic ingredients”. However, the claim is not verified and the producer alone decides whether to use it.

Free-range: Eggs, chicken, and other meat labeled as free-range suggest that an animal has spent a good part of its life outdoors. But the U.S. government rule for the use of this label is stating that the outdoor access should be made available for “an undetermined period each day”. But the rule is weak because it refers to the outdoor access not the actual time spent outside. Let’s say that the coop door was open for just 10 minutes a day, the meat and eggs could legally be labeled “free-range”, regardless of whether the chickens went outside.

Also cage-free, hormone-free does not mean organic and the U.S. government rule for the use of these labels is weak.

For more information visit Organic Food Standards and Labels: The Facts.

Burt's Bee Owned by Clorox

I just came across this article in New York Times “Can Burt’s Bees Turn Clorox Green?”. I was never a fun of Burt’s Bee but I have to confess that I was surprised to find out that they are now owned by Clorox. The Burt’s Bee Company claims that its products are natural and Clorox claims that is working hard to become green. Will Burt’s Bee become Clorox or Clorox will become Burt’s Bee? Well, the history proved one thing: when a small company is acquired by a big one, in time it will simply become the same thing. I doubt that Clorox will change its line of products so easily but I am pretty sure that will be able to wipe out the natural part of the Burt’s Bee.