Natural Foods Merchandiser

Amy's Organics Ruled Out of EU

Amy's Kitchen, required to remove the word organic from the labels of products it sells in the European Union, is "not even pushing on the sale of organics there," company President Andy Berliner said.

Petaluma, Calif.-based Amy's, a leading U.S. producer of organic vegetarian products, only sells soups and frozen foods in the European Union, but Berliner said that complying with EU organic rules for even those products is "very difficult to accomplish."

The foods Amy's sells in Europe adhere to the EU requirement that only products with at least 95 percent organic ingredients can be labeled organic, Berliner said. But not all of Amy's products comply with three key EU rules that are more stringent than the new organic standards adopted as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program.

As a result, Amy's frozen foods and soups sold in the EU can only be labeled "vegetables and grains grown without the use of organophosphate pesticides."

Compared with U.S. regulations, EU organic requirements call for less use of bactericidal chlorine, which is used to process vegetables. Certified organic products sold in the EU may not be grown using factory-farm manure.

The European Union also does not allow Chilean nitrates in its organic products, but in U.S. certified organic foods, up to 20 percent can be used. "We've jumped through hoops to separate crops, but we still can't guarantee" that Amy's EU products are Chilean-nitrate free, Berliner said.

Another stumbling block, Berliner said, is the EU stipulation that organic affidavits be signed by certifying agencies rather than by growers as is the practice in the United States.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIII/number 9/p. 8

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