PhotoNew mothers are often highly concerned with what goes into their child's body, and buying organic products can be one way to help assuage that concern. But some companies’ baby and toddler-focused products may not be as organic as their labels claim.

Two infant formula makers are being accused of falsely labeling products as “organic.” The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) has filed suit against the Hain Celestial Group (owner of the Earth’s Best formula brand) and The Honest Co.

The companies are accused of labeling certain “organic” products that contain ingredients prohibited under the Organic Food Production Act of 1990 (OPPA).

Violates USDA standards

Eleven substances not deemed organic by federal law were found in The Honest Co.’s Premium Infant Formula. Over half of the 48 ingredients in Hain Celestial’s Earth’s Best Organic Infant Formula violate USDA Organic Standards. Non-organic ingredients were also found in other Earth’s Best products (including Organic Infant Formula, Organic Soy Infant Formula, Organic Sensitivity Infant Formula, and Organic Toddler Formula).

The OCA’s international director, Ronnie Cummins, says it’s an especially fitting time to call out the violation of USDA organic standards, as leaders of the organic industry are meeting this week at the Spring National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) to discuss organic standards.

“No one is more concerned about food labels and ingredients than new mothers responsible for feeding infants whose immune systems and brain development are so underdeveloped and vulnerable,” Cummins said in a statement, adding that mothers rely on truthful labeling.

The consumer advocacy group says the goal of the lawsuit is to force the two companies to either comply with USDA organic standards or stop calling their products “organic.”

Approved methods

What is and isn’t “organic” has been a contentious issue lately. According to the USDA, the labeling term should indicate that the food has been produced through approved methods.

The agency states that cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that “promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity” should apply to a product before it’s labeled organic.


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