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Horizon Organic not Really Organic: Brand Labeling Deceives Public

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Is Horizon Organic not really organic? It appears so. Their corporate parent, WhiteWave just announced last December the inclusion of new non-organic Horizon brand products. Customers have long trusted that buying Horizon Organics label products assures quality organic products at a premium price. It appears that going forward the only promise is the premium price. Yes, Horizon Organic is not really organic anymore. Not completely. What does this mean for your family?

Why are Dairy Products from Horizon Organic not really organic? It is a labeling trick used by the company to compel shoppers to buy on brand recognition. They test marketed  Horizon brand macaroni and cheese dinners, both in certified organic and classic varieties last year. According to The Cornucopia Institute, four of the six new Horizon Mac and Cheese packaged dinners are made with conventional or synthetic ingredients that are not legally allowed in organic labeled foods.

“Horizon joins a long line of corporate agribusinesses that have intentionally blurred the line between products they offer with all certified organic ingredients and others sold in similar packaging but containing materials that would never be accepted for use under the USDA organic seal,” said Mark A. Kastel, codirector of the Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin Based organic industry watchdog.

Horizon Organic not Really Organic due to Milk Protein Concentrate Additive

Horizon Organic not really organic. Their Classic Mac and Cheese is made with organic ingredients but uses conventional ingredients too like milk protein concentrates, maltodextrin, and corn starch from GMOs.

Classic Mac and Cheese is made with organic ingredients but uses conventional ingredients too.

Horizon Brand non-organic certified products are being made with milk protein concentrate (MPC). It is a controversial food product that is often imported and poorly regulated. It is used to substitute for fresh milk.

John Peck, executive director of Family Farm Defenders, says Milk Protein Concentrate is  used as a way to drive down dairy prices received by farmers. He claims they are the cheapest way to make dairy products.

Family Farm Defenders is an advocacy group based in Wisconsin. The group has fought against MPC imports from countries that don’t meet the same health and sanitary standards as the U.S. Milk protein concentrate is the lowest grade dairy byproduct left after milk processing according to Peck.

Horizon Organic not Really Organic Since 2009

The Horizon label hasn’t been an exclusively certified organic label for quite a long time.  In 2009 WhiteWave introduced non-certified organic yogurt specifically targeting toddlers. The product contained organic milk but was mixed with puréed fruits and vegetables that were conventional. Furthermore, those fruits and vegetables were listed on the “dirty dozen” list of produce containing the highest levels of pesticides.

“Although WhiteWave withdrew their conventional yogurt after the brouhaha, they do not seem to have learned the lesson that it’s unwise to abuse the trust of their organic customers,” Kastel says.

Don’t get taken advantage of when you shop. Read organic food labels carefully. Check for brands that are certified organic. How are some dairy products from Horizon Organic not really organic at all, even though they use organic on their labeling? It’s not illegal to use organic tag words to boast about product ingredients. The brand tricks shoppers into assuming the entire product is organic. But Horizon also has non-organicingredients in their Mac and Cheese Products.

Ingredients in Horizon Organic not Really Organic:

  • Maltodextrin (which is commonly derived from GMO corn)
  • Non-organic Corn Starch (which is likely GMO)
  • Natural Flavor
  • Disodium Phosphate
  • Extractives of Annatto (a conventional coloring agent that is available in organic form)
  • Milk Protein Concentrate
  • Lactic Acid

MPCs are illegal to use in some dairy products.

Family Farm Defenders’ John Peck says that the FDA recently forced Kraft to change labeling for foods containing MPCs from “cheese foods to cheese products.” There is no safe status for Milk Protein Concentrates according to the FDA. They are generally imported into the U.S. to make glue.


One Response to Horizon Organic not Really Organic: Brand Labeling Deceives Public

  • Jeff says:

    Thanks!! I usually look for the “cert” logos but I didn’t know you could say something was organic if it wasn’t and didn’t think anybody would try. Great info!

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Healthy Family is an organic living website. It's mainly written by Caryn, a busy mom of 4. We talk about nutrition parenting, and education on Healthy Family. You'll find easy, family friendly organic recipes, all gluten and corn free. We offer shopping tips, craft ideas for kids, and product and book reviews, too. Caryn often talks about being a mom, honoring her Catholic faith and traditions, and the importance of eating healthy organic foods. Contact us if you'd like.