24 June 2010

Facts on Food Labeling~

Some parts below pasted from Bonnie Bucqueroux's Sustainable blog

GMO, as you probably know, refers to Genetically Modified Organisms, known in Europe as Frankenfoods because of fears that mad scientists may be unwittingly or uncaringly unleashing true monsters upon us.

Concerning food labeling, the issue is whether you can tell how the fruits and veggies for sale at the local grocery store were raised by deciphering the codes, and the answer is a resounding maybe. Here is the key as certified by the International Federation for Food Standards (note that the wording is mine, not theirs):

Four-digit code - A conventionally grown crop. Conventional could mean that the foodstuff has been repeatedly doused with one poison or another -- or not. But at least its genes should not have been artificially altered (though one wonders how many food execs are doing hard time in stir for violating the rules).

Five-digit code starting with the number 9 - Organically grown in compliance with the USDA standards.

Five-digit code starting with the number 8 - GMO foods. (Why didn't they just use 666?)

• Restricted FOR use on products grown in North America, East only (meaning these are codes that were originally assigned as East and were used on specific products grown East of the Mississippi in the United States and East of the Ontario/Manitoba border in Canada. These codes only apply in North America and should continue to be used for those specific products):
4318 – Melon, Cantaloupe/Muskmelon, Small
4319 – Melon, Cantaloupe/Muskmelon, Large

• Restricted FROM use on products grown in North America (meaning these are codes that were originally assigned for a specific region outside of North America and, although are now considered Global, are, for various reasons, impossible to incorporate in the North American market. The recommendation is to only use these codes for items grown and/ or sold outside of North America):
3425 – Tangerines/Mandarins, Ellendale, Small
3426 – Tangerines/Mandarins, Ellendale, Medium
3427 – Tangerines/Mandarins, Ellendale, Large

But before you think you can rely on the fact that foods without the dreaded "8" are not Frankenfoods, you should know that the labeling system in the United States is voluntary. And that means growers who want you to know they are doing good things - basically, the organic folks - are probably quick to slap a "9" on that rutabaga you are scrutinizing.

But I suspect only a truly dumb Frankenfood producer would be likely to warn you off with an "8" on that great-looking tomato. (The logic seems impeccable: "What they don't know might hurt them someday, but telling them would hurt our sales today.")

1 comment:

  1. ha about the 666 part :) that sure would make my life easier differentiating between the bad ones and good ones :) imagine, even the plastic label leaves off residue on the fruit/vegetable that may be harmful for us, sigh. all the more reason to support farmer's markets where the produce isn't labeled and the food is local and possibly organic.