There’s been some chatter over the past few days regarding a recent claim that the DHA Omega-3 our Horizon brand uses in a few of our milk products is a “prohibited” or “illegal” substance. That’s a very strong accusation. It’s also not true. The USDA has not banned the use of plant-based DHA in organic milk, nor has it questioned the safety of the ingredient.
Here’s the situation – late last April (2010), the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) chose to re-evaluate the process it had been using to approve various added nutrients for organic products. The question the NOP is asking itself, is should it, as part of its current ingredient approval process, add a few new steps. Steps like requiring a formal petition process with a public hearing.
The DHA we source from Martek (our DHA provider) falls into a long list of other ingredients that would be affected by the change. A list of ingredients (like Vitamins A, D, and DHA derived from fish oil) that, like the DHA we use, are currently being used in other organically certified products. Important to note though that the USDA is still trying to figure this out, no decisions have been made as it relates to the addition of the new regulations (I also want to point out that the DHA we use, has been scientifically proven to help with brain and eye development in children… It’s good for you).
The Organic Trade Association issued a press release about the situation when it it happened; you can read it here. Note the second paragraph, which reads:
“It is important to remember that the affected products remain in good organic standing with the NOP, and will continue to be found on store shelves while the National Organic Standards Board reviews the specific ingredients” said Christine Bushway, OTA’s Executive Director.”
So, when you hear that the USDA is evaluating Martek’s DHA as an organic supplement, they aren’t questioning the ingredient itself, just the process behind its (and a variety of other ingredients) approval. Rest assured that we at Horizon worked with Martek and the USDA to follow the correct process to get the DHA approved as an accepted additive to organic milk (in 2007 when we introduced our first DHA enhanced product).
Another important thing to note in the press release is the date – April 29, 2010. This is not new. It’s also something that we as an organic food provider support. Look, if the people that regulate organic food labeling want to do something that adds credibility to the organic label, we’re all for it. We’re also all for having an open dialogue about this topic, or any other that you’d like to discuss.
You can learn more about our DHA and other certified organic dairy products here. And you can also check out Horizon’s Facebook page, where we’ve been having really great constructive discussions with our consumers.