US farm lobby group The Cornucopia Institute has filed a legal complaint with the US Department of Agriculture in a bid to end the alleged use of toxic solvents in the manufacture of organic food.
According to the institute, manufacturers of organic baby formulas and foods are using hexane-extracted omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (DHA/ARA) derived from algae and soil fungus.
These algal- and fungal-based DHA/ARA ingredients have been linked to virulent diarrhoea and vomiting in infants.
“The federal organic regulations very clearly prohibit these oils in organic foods, so this is not a case of companies finding loopholes in the regulations,” said Mark Kastel, co-director of the institute.
“What we’re seeing is the latest in a long string of USDA actions that blatantly cater to industry interests at the expense of consumer safety. USDA officials are simply allowing these companies to freely break the organic rules in their pursuit of profit.”
The institute claimed that organic products containing the prohibited fatty acid supplements include Dean Foods’ Horizon Organic milk with DHA.
The lobby group also cited organic infant formulas including Abbott Laboratories’ Similac Organic, Hain Celestial’s Earth’s Best, and PBM Products’ Bright Beginnings Organic as containing the supplements.
“Large food companies should not use a supplement that has a known association with sickness in children,” a spokesperson for Cornucopia told just-food. “We are calling on the USDA to enforce regulations that already exist and take measures to prevent the use of these chemicals in the production of organic foods.”
Officials at Dean Foods and Hain Celestial could not be reached for immediate comment as just-food went to press.