Here are some tips to breaking down those natural product labels:
Look for an official certification.
“’Kosher Certified’ has been in place for a long time and their guidelines and standards are very specific,” Freedman said.
Natural Food Certifiers has announced today that any food product that contains GMOs is no longer eligible to be certified as kosher under their “Apple K” kosher certification program. A press release stated:
“NFC was very proud to introduce the first “Natural Only” kosher supervision,” said NFC Director Rabbi Reuven Flamer. “It’s a logical application of our principle, ‘Start Naturally. Stay that Way.’ Therefore, the Natural AppleK cannot be placed on a product that contains GMOs,” Flamer explained.
“While according to the strict letter of Kosher food law a GMO food ingredient is not prohibited, in our view it is not natural. Additionally, there is a Torah (religious)-based law to ‘guard your health’. GMOs are the number-one growing concern among health-conscious consumers and for businesses in the natural and organic food market, as well as in the conventional food industry,” said Rabbi Flamer.
“Recent studies show that GMOs may cause various kinds of health problems from digestive disturbances to food allergies, and that GMOs require more herbicides, which is really the opposite reason why GMOs were touted to be so environmentally helpful in the first place,” Rabbi Flamer added. “For all of the many reasons that GMOs raise a red flag, consumers simply don’t want them in their foods, and our clients want to accommodate their customers.”
“And the QAI label — or Quality Assurance International — means the product is certified organic, and made with no pesticides or pollutants.”
“The EPA recognition for DFE — Designed For the Environment — is one you can trust,” Boyce said. “I really like LeapingBunny.org,” Kramer said. “They put their name on products that follow their protocol. In 10 years, nobody has ever come to my building and looked at what I do, except for them.”
Beware of products with warnings. “Our label says ‘dilute with water’, not ‘call poison control,’” Boyce said. “I actually drank our product to prove a point. It tastes terrible and it’s not recommended, but it’s safe enough to consume.”
Avoid dyes and fragrances. “Dyes are really unnecessary and can be full of toxins,” Kramer said.
“The same goes for scents. The most harmful are listed as ‘parfum’ or ‘parfume.’ ”
Get educated about synthetic or toxic ingredients. Kramer recommends you avoid parabens, formaldehyde, dimethicone, dioxin and pthalates.
“Any unfamiliar long scientific-sounding words — that to me says it’s heavily processed or a preservative,” Freedman said.
Higher price doesn’t mean higher quality.
“Even the really expensive brands will have most of the same ingredients as the pharmacy brands,” Kramer said.
“It’s very rare to find things that are 100 percent natural. So turn that product around and read the label panel. ”
We do a lot of research with what we put out there and once people hear that 60 percent of what you put onto your skin goes into your bloodstream, you really start to pay more attention.“
NEW YORK — Although kashrus officials expect manufacturers of genetically modified foods to fully divulge all ingredients as is standard for any product vying for kosher certification, they support legislation that would require the manufacturers to list the ingredients. One rabbi said that it would be one additional measure of proof that the ingredients are indeed kosher while another said that he is often asked by consumers about the ingredients.
Many of the large kashrus agencies now routinely track ingredients in genetically modified foods. Large companies like Monsanto have opposed bills that would require them to divulge every ingredient in what is known as genetically modified organism (GMO), some out of fear that it would be copied by competitors. Transparency in GMO labeling is supported by many consumer groups. One consumer group in a statement said: “It’s outrageous that companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Kraft, Kellogg’s and General Mills spent millions of dollars last year to deny American’s their basic right to know what’s in their food when they already label GMO ingredients in 64 other countries around the world, including all of Europe, Russia, China, India, South Africa and even Syria. American consumers have a right to know what’s in their food, and it’s time that Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association stop hiding those facts and America’s large food manufacturers endorse the labeling of genetically engineered foods.”
This year, 26 states have introduced legislation to label genetically engineered foods, with GMO labeling bills recently passing in Connecticut and Maine. A GMO labeling bill also passed the Vermont House this spring and awaits passage as early as next January in the Vermont Senate. Similar legislation has been introduced in Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Monsanto and the GMA have expressed fears over the passage of the upcoming ballot initiative in Washington State this fall, similar to the one in California, which places the issue of labeling genetically engineered foods before a popular statewide vote.