Soy product producer WhiteWave has defended its products following a complaint by the Cornucopia Institute over alleged "misleading" claims.

The US organic farming group yesterday (21 October) filed a complaint against US retailer Target Corp. over the alleged "misleading" sale of organic products produced by WhiteWave, a unit of Dean Foods.

The complaints, filed with the US Department of Agriculture's organic programme, and Wisconsin and Minnesota officials, alleged that Target has misled consumers into thinking some conventional food items it sells are organic.

The Wisconsin-based policy group pointed in particular to Target's nationally advertised Silk soymilk, advertised using the term "organic" pictured on the carton's label.

The institute claims that the complaints are the "latest salvo" into a growing controversy where corporate agribusiness and major retailers have been accused of "blurring the line" between "natural" products and food that has been grown, processed and properly certified organic under tight federal standards.

A spokesperson for WhiteWave however, told just-food: "As demand for organic and natural food products continues to grow, WhiteWave remains dedicated to providing a variety of options to satisfy a broad range of consumer demands.

"Silk continues to offer both organic and natural options to consumers, both of which are carried at Target. Horizon is committed to providing nutritious options for families. Horizon offers a full line of organic dairy products, along with a recently launched natural yoghurt for toddlers called Little Blends. All Silk and Horizon organic and natural products are clearly labelled as such."

This is not the first time The Cornucopia Institute has accused a retailer of misleading consumers with organic products.

In 2006 the Institute filed a complaint with the USDA accusing Wal-Mart of illegally selling non-organic food products as organic. The Institute claimed to have documented cases of non-organic products being sold as organic by the world's largest retailer.