Corporations and less than trust-worthy manufacturers are continuously ousted for sneaking synthetic ingredients and other chemicals in organic food products, and consumers don’t like it. Recently, a not-for-profit policy research organization called the Cornucopia Institute filed a formal legal complaint with the USDA against several infant formula manufacturers. Why? These manufacturers are sneaking two synthetic preservatives in certified organic baby formula.
Synthetics Hidden within Organic Baby Formula
Going against The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, which explicitly bans synthetic preservatives in organic food, corporations are loading up organic baby formula with synthetic beta carotene and ascorbyl palmitate.
“This is another blatant violation of the federal law governing organics by multi-billion dollar corporations that apparently think they can get away with anything,” says Charlotte Vallaeys, Director of Farm and Food Policy at The Cornucopia Institute.
Interestingly, these corporations are adding the synthetic preservatives to organic baby formula to prevent the oxidation and rancidity of other synthetic, toxic ingredients, such as those found in DHA/ARA-enhanced baby formula. Baby formula manufacturers first started putting synthetic fatty acids called DHA and ARA in formula about a decade ago, but despite complaints over the years and questionable marketing practices by the companies, these DHA/ARA-enhanced formulas remain on the market today.
“This is not the first time that the pharmaceutical companies and agribusinesses, that manufacture infant formula, have quietly added to organic formula the same synthetic ingredients that they use in their conventional versions without first seeking the legally required approval for use in organics,” Vallaeys says.
According to the industry’s trade-lobby group, International Formula Council, synthetic beta carotene and ascorbyl palmitate provide no nutritional value, and provide no other purpose other than to prevent oxidation and rancidity. And of course, it isn’t surprising to see little benefit from these synthetics. In fact, it is because of synthetic vitamins that many vitamin studies and vitamin supplements are potentially useless.
The real issue concerning the organic baby formula, however, is that these companies are sneaking synthetic ingredients into organic food. Organic standards require organic foods to be free of synthetic ingredients when the primary purpose is to preserve. But as a bypass, the International Formula Council never uses the word “preservative”. Instead, they use terms like ‘antioxidant,’ to ‘prevent undesirable oxidation,’ and ‘prevent rancidity’ in “powder formulations containing DHA and ARA.”
“The only reason why these two synthetic preservatives are added to infant formula is to prevent the rancidity of some of the other synthetic ingredients that are not essential and have also been added illegally. This is a slippery slope, and we urge the USDA to take appropriate enforcement action and put an end to the practice of first adding synthetic additives to organic food, including infant formula, and then seeking subsequent approval,” says Vallaeys.