Quantcast

Organic Foods Are the Only ‘Clean’ Packaged Option for Consumers

Insights + Opinion
A supermarket's organic section with fresh and packaged foods. Keith Brofsky / UpperCut Images / Getty Images

Unlike organic packaged foods, conventional packaged food contains thousands of poorly regulated food chemicals, according to a new analysis by the Environmental Working Group.

"Although many consumers choose organic to avoid toxic pesticides, few know that federal rules dramatically limit the use of synthetic substances in organic food," said EWG nutritionist Dawn Undurraga, one of the authors of the report.


It is widely known that certified organic fruits and vegetables have far lower pesticide levels than conventionally grown produce, thanks to federal regulations. But many consumers do not realize that fewer than 40 synthetic ingredients are allowed in organic packaged foods like salad dressing, cereals and snacks.

By contrast, at least 2,000 chemical preservatives, colors and other chemicals are used in conventional packaged foods, EWG found.

What's more, many consumers are unaware that food manufacturers don't need approval from the Food and Drug Administration for many of the chemicals added to conventional packaged foods.

"The same companies that manufacture food chemicals are allowed to declare them safe," said Melanie Benesh, EWG legislative attorney, a report co-author. "It's like the fox guarding the hen house. For those consumers seeking 'clean foods' free from toxic chemical additives, organic is really your only option."

Substances added to organic food must be approved by government and independent experts every five years. Those substances approved for use in organic foods must be proven safe for consumption, with no adverse impact on the environment.

Since 2008, 72 substances have been rejected for use in organic food.

Many of the chemicals used in conventional food have been linked to serious health problems like cancer, including sodium nitrate and butylated hydroxyanisole. Many of these chemicals are not reviewed by independent experts but are instead deemed "safe" by chemical companies, food companies or industry trade associations.

Moreover, companies are not required to periodically rereview these additives so that new scientific research or changes in the diet may be considered.

"Consumers rightly assume their food is safe," Benesh said. "But many food chemicals with connections to cancer and other serious health concerns have been deemed safe by chemical and food companies, not by the FDA."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Activists in North Dakota confront pipeline construction activities. A Texas bill would impose steep penalties for such protests. Speak Freely / ACLU

By Eoin Higgins

A bill making its way through the Texas legislature would make protesting pipelines a third-degree felony, the same as attempted murder.

Read More Show Less
An Australian flag flutters in the wind in a dry drought-ridden landscape. Virginia Star / Moment / Getty Images

Australia re-elected its conservative governing Liberal-National coalition Saturday, despite the fact that it has refused to cut down significantly on greenhouse gas emissions or coal during its time in power, The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Tree lined street, UK. Richard Newstead / Moment / Getty Images

The UK government will fund the planting of more than 130,000 trees in English towns and cities in the next two years as part of its efforts to fight climate change, The Guardian reported Sunday.

Read More Show Less
A tropical storm above Bangkok on Aug. 04, 2016. Hristo Rusev/ NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Jeff Turrentine

First off: Bangkok Wakes to Rain, the intricately wrought, elegantly crafted debut novel by the Thai-American author Pitchaya Sudbanthad, isn't really about climate change. This tale set in the sprawling subtropical Thai capital is ultimately a kind of family saga — although its interconnected characters aren't necessarily linked by a bloodline. What binds them is their relationship to a small parcel of urban land on which has variously stood a Christian mission, an upper-class family house, and a towering condominium. All of the characters have either called this place home or had some other significant connection to it.

Read More Show Less
orn_france / iStock / Getty Images

By Susan McCabe, BSc, RD

Dioscorea alata is a species of yam commonly referred to as purple yam, ube, violet yam, or water yam.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Left: MirageC / Moment / Getty Images Right: Pongsak Tawansaeng / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD

Sole water is water saturated with pink Himalayan salt.

Read More Show Less
People march to TCF Bank Stadium to protest against the mascot for the Washington Redskins before the game against the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 2, 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Hannah Foslien / Getty Images

Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill into law Thursday banning public schools or universities in the state from using Native American mascots, names or imagery. Mills' action will make Maine the first state in the nation with such a ban once it goes into effect later this year, The Bangor Daily News reported.

Read More Show Less
A man protests against the use of disposable plastics outside the Houses of Parliament on March 28 in London. John Keeble / Getty Images

Plastic pollution across the globe is suffocating our planet and driving Earth toward catastrophic climatic conditions if not curbed significantly and immediately, according to a new report by the Center for International Environmental Law (CEIL).

Read More Show Less