Fewer than 40

synthetic substances can be used

in organic packaged foods

In contrast, federal regulators and independent experts must screen synthetic substances before approving their use in or- ganic packaged foods. These ingredients are permitted for use in organic packaged food only if there is no natural or organic al- ternative. Ingredients that “have an adverse effect on human health” are prohibited from use in organic packaged foods, as are synthetic ingredients that adversely affect the environment. What’s more, synthetic ingredients added to organic packaged foods must be reviewed by independent and government experts every five years to ensure they continue to meet these strict stan- dards.

An estimated 2,000 synthetic chemicals

can be used in conventional packaged foods

Organic packaged food currently constitutes 3 percent of the

U.S. packaged-food market, demonstrating that packaged foods can be produced at commercial scale without using thousands

of poorly regulated chemicals. Experts estimate that by 2020, sales of organic packaged food may reach $16 billion, or 4 per- cent of all packaged foods. As consumers are increasingly seek- ing “clean” foods, organic brands are the only commercial option backed by enforceable standards.

Ingredients You Won’t Find In Organic

No Chemical Preservatives Chemical preservatives added to conventional packaged foods can increase the risk of various diseases, from cancer to hormonal problems. For example, butylated hydroxyanisole, or BHA, a preserva-

tive commonly added to frozen foods like pizza, or sausages and pepperoni, may increase the risk of cancer. BHA has also been listed by the state of California as a carcinogen and is classified as a potential endocrine disruptor by the European Union. Butyl- ated hydroxytoluene, or BHT, a common preservative synthesized from coal tar or petroleum, which has been found in hundreds of cereals, causes lung and liver tumors in studies of laboratory animals .

Table 1 Synthetic Preservatives of Concern

That Are Commonly Used in Conventional Packaged Food but Not Allowed in Organic

Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) Listed by the state of California as a carcinogen and classified as a potential endocrine disruptor by the European Union

Sodium Nitrate Determined by the World Health Organization to be probably carcinogenic to humans.

Sodium Benzoate At high doses, causes developmental toxicity and DNA dam- age in laboratory studies.

t-Butylhydroquinone World Health Organization reports hematologic effects in laboratory studies.

Diacetyltartaric and Fatty Acid Esters of Glycerol World Health Organization reports inflammation of the heart in laboratory studies.

Propylene Glycol World Health Organization and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report blood effects in labora- tory studies.

Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) Causes lung and liver tumors in studies of laboratory animals.

Disodium Inosinate World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have determined can increase uric acid levels, increasing the risk of kidney stones or gout.


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