Friday, May 25, 2012

Oh Kashi Why? More Deceptive Food Marketing



People generally tend to believe that the word "natural" refers to foods grown "in a natural way," like organic farming methods, or close to it. WRONG !


In my last article I exposed the marketing tactic of showing us healthy fruits on boxes of packaged products, we found to contain no fruit at all. We think of "Natural" products to be grown without harsh chemicals, and most definitely not something that has been genetically engineered. Unfortunately, that's not what the "natural" label represents at all. In fact, the "natural" label is unregulated, and companies can define it as they please, and food manufacturers are well aware of this general misconception of what the label means, and frequently misuse it to lure health conscious consumers into spending more. This is known as "green-washing" and it certainly applies in this case. The Cornucopia Institute released a report, "Cereal Crimes", back in November of last year, which details the presence of genetically engineered grains in a number of leading "natural" cereal brands, including Kellogg's Kashi brand.

Shockingly, many of the products tested were found to contain high amounts of genetically engineered grains. Some, including Kashi, containing 100 % genetically engineered grains. The report also mentions a class action lawsuit filed against Kellogg/Kashi on August 31, 2011, "for allegedly misleading consumers with its "natural" claims. One Kashi® product in particular, GoLean® Shakes, "is composed almost entirely of synthetic and unnaturally processed ingredients," according to the plaintiff. The report contrasts these findings with tests of certified organic cereal products, which by law are not allowed to contain any genetically engineered ingredients or synthetic pesticides. While some were found to be mildly contaminated with genetically engineered ingredients, overall, the report highlights the fact that the ONLY way to ensure you're not buying a genetically engineered product is to buy a product bearing the USDA 100% Organic label. Kashi suggested, disingenuously, that any genetically engineered contamination in their food was from incidental sources rather than crops intentionally grown from GMO seed. While acknowledging that over 80% of the soybeans grown in North America are GMO, they explain that, "practices in agricultural storage, handling, and shipping, have lead to an environment where GMOs are not sufficiently controlled."
Three days later, the USA Today reported:
"... Kellogg got itself into trouble by "not being entirely transparent," says Roger Nyhus, president of Nyhus Communications in Seattle. He sees a trend among some companies "of fudging language to allay consumer concerns and jump on the green bandwagon, and I think it's starting to backfire."  ... Kashi's DeSouza says that by 2015, all new Kashi products will "contain at least 70 percent USDA organic certified ingredients."
So, in a matter of days, Kashi ended up backpedaling as their initial attempt to discredit the Cornucopia Institute's test results backfired, and now the company has agreed to ensure their products will, within the next three years, contain at least 70% certified organic ingredients.

It's important to understand that the "natural" label is not regulated and does not provide a guarantee of being free of genetically engineered ingredients or synthetic pesticides and additives. Currently, the ONLY label that can protect you against genetically engineered ingredients and other unsavory additives is the USDA 100% Organic label. The USDA's National Organic Program (NOP) took effect October 21, 2002, and regulates the standards for any farm, wild crop harvesting, or handling operation that wants to sell an agricultural product as organically produced. The labeling requirements of the NOP apply to raw, fresh products and processed products that contain organic agricultural ingredients. In order to qualify as organic, a product must be grown and processed using organic farming methods that recycle resources and promote biodiversity. Crops must be grown without synthetic pesticides, bio-engineered genes, petroleum-based fertilizers, or sewage sludge-based fertilizers. Organic livestock must have access to the outdoors and cannot be given antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic products cannot be irradiated, are not allowed to contain preservatives or flavor enhancing chemicals, nor can they contain traces of heavy metals or other contaminants in excess of tolerances set by the FDA. Additionally, the pesticide residue level cannot be higher than 5 percent of the maximum EPA pesticide tolerance. So as we see food deception can come from some of the most unlikely places. It's a "NO Brainer" if it doesn't say Organic it's Russian Roulette with your food. Good Luck...


Hippocrates?


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