Wal-Mart, which announced in March that it will add 400 organic SKUs to its product mix, is now expanding on that promise. As of mid-May, about half of all Wal-Mart stores will also carry natural dog and cat food.
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Jolanda Stewart said the company will stock four SKUs of Natural Life pet food in the 1,500 stores where Wal-Mart research shows consumers "tend to purchase products with organic and natural tie-ins." Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart has a total of 3,189 stores.
Natural Life will be the only natural or organic pet foods Wal-Mart carries, although Stewart said the discount retailer could add more natural pet products and brands in the future.
Liquid supplements to be tested
It seems that it might not only be soft drinks that could have the little carbon rings known as benzene floating around in them. The National Institutes of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements has contracted with Flora Research Laboratories of Grant's Pass, Ore., and Jana Hildreth of Lawndale, Calif.-based Blaze Science Industries LLC to develop a test for benzene levels in consumer products—including liquid dietary supplements. Hildreth will coordinate the study. James Neal-Kababick of Flora will be the lead researcher.
Benzene is formed in the presence of two common ingredients, sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Benzene, a known carcinogen, was recently the center of a controversy involving levels of the chemical in soft drinks.
Mad cow threat small, USDA says
The prevalence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease, is "extraordinarily low" in the United States, said U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. The USDA estimated that only four to seven animals nationwide currently have BSE, making the odds of an adult cow having BSE about one in a million. Three cases of BSE have been found in the United States so far.
Johanns' announcement comes after two years of an enhanced surveillance effort and five years of prior surveillance. The USDA increased its efforts in June 2004 after an imported animal was found to have the disease in December 2003. Samples were taken from cattle from 5,000 locations across the United States, including slaughter plants and farms. Johanns' has suggested that USDA may soon step down its BSE surveillance operations. Safeguards to prevent BSE from spreading include the Food and Drug Administration's 1997 ban on ruminant-to-ruminant feed.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVII/number 6/p. 11