It seems that everyone loves a good conspiracy theory. Growing up I could be found glued to the television when Unsolved Mysteries was on. UFO’s, unsolved deaths, crop circles, I loved it all. I still find enjoyment in reading about conspiracies and mysteries, but for me, it is mostly just fun and all taken with a grain of salt.
Recently, on Twitter I saw that a government “conspiracy” was being “revealed.” What caught my eye was that this conspiracy involved the National Organic Program. Apparently, Monsanto was in cahoots with the USDA and a product (Neotame, a sweetener) of one of their former affiliate companies was being allowed in organic products. Or at least this is how the conspiracy goes. With a quick Google search, you will see that this theory spread like wildfire around the internet and blog sphere.
I do know that some non-organic products are allowed in organic production and processing, but the list is small (110 items) and usually the items are one compound items, like salt, natural minerals and yeast. So, being someone who doesn’t just take everything I read as fact, I did my own investigation. If you visit the USDA National Organic Program website you will see a link to the National List of Approved and Prohibited Substances. This link isn’t hidden, in fact it the top link on the page. You can view the list without a password or secret hand shake. What I found was that Neotame was not on the list.
What does this mean? It means that Neotame is not allowed in 100% organic products. But that doesn’t mean if you buy an organic product that it might not be in there. Remember that organic products are broken into four categories: 100% organic, 95% organic, 70% organic and less that 70% organic ingredients. Review each categories requirements here: Labeling Packaged Products under that National Organic Standard. It is quite possible that Neotame could be found in products that are labeled “made with some organic.” If you don’t want Neotame, buy 100% organic products. Any FDA approved ingredient can be included in the last category. This isn’t a mystery, I believe the rule is clear.
There you have it, mystery solved. What I don’t get, is that Neotame was approved by the FDA in 2002, why now for all the hubbub? There is a debate on whether Neotame should have ever been approved by the FDA, but that doesn’t jeopardize the integrity of the USDA Organic National Standard.
If you ever have questions about organics, please do not hesitate to ask. I don’t know everything, but I am pretty good at directing people in the right direction.
Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy. We are proud Organic Valley farmer members and sell our milk under that label. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more, www.zweberfarms.com. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.