Tuesday, July 3, 2007

No Country of Origin Labels on Produce, Meat, Nuts

With the flurry of recalls of products from China (pet food, seafood, toy trains) there are now articles about how politics has impeded the enacting of country of origin labeling laws that were passed in Congress. The New York Times had this article this week.

In January, I wrote this article for the Chicago Tribune about food imported from China and other countries that bear the USDA organic label. From my research, I determined that it's not a good idea to shell out extra money to buy organic produce that was grown in China. Yet no-one else has mentioned that Whole Foods and Trader Joes, among other stores, still carry frozen produce that was produced in China. The label is actually there, a voluntary label on the part of the seller; in small print it says "Product of China." Who knows, now, though, what other products have some ingredients from China, while still bearing the USDA organic label. For example, an article from a national magazine recently interviewed the CEO of Stonyfield yogurt who admitted getting berries from China for their organic yogurt. It's highly unlikely that the berries are actually grown organically in China, without pesticides; it's even said, anedcotally, that in China human waste is used as fertilizer--a big no-no, to say the least.

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