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Growing Concern Over Truth in the Organic Food Industry

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Photo by kthread via Flickr

Photo by kthread via Flickr
Farmers know that for the most part the word ‘organic’ sells.

The problem occurs when the food is not really organic. With the $1.1 billion industry growing quickly and exponentially, enforcement and regulation seems to lag behind.

For years organic farmers have complained, not only about the fraud in the industry, but also about the lack of punishment. Organic growers are required by law to be certified and pay a percentage of their sales to fund the State Organic Program as well as comply with regulations that credit them as organic. Needless to say the process gets pricey. Organic growers truly take a hit then, when farmers who are not credited or paying the fees get the benefits of claiming organic.

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The growing complaints of such activity in the organic food industry have led the California Department of Food and Agriculture to begin to crack down on regulation efforts. The Department has proposed new regulations that will increase enforcement and provide protection to true organic farmers, according to the Associated Press.

The proposed regulations will hopefully more clearly define how the Department will investigate complaints submitted by organic growers; how, when, and where they will collect samples to check for unauthorized pesticides; as well as creating a spot inspection program that will check the authenticity of the food labeled ‘organic’.

Sellers, for example, will have to report changes in their registration of what they are selling 14 days prior to the sale.

The Department has already begun to prove they are serious about the change after they reported a case of penalizing a farmer in Santa Rosa for falsely labeling her products as organic and charged her with a $15,000 fine.

The public hearing over the proposed regulations will be on August 10, 2010 starting at 10 a.m. at the California Department of Food and Agriculture in Sacramento. The Department will accept written submissions until August 9th at (916) 445-2427 or by emails to