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Hain Celestial signs off on WhiteWave tofu deal
Organic and natural food products firm The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. has completed its acquisition of the tofu and meat alternative business of WhiteWave Foods Company, a subsidiary of Dean Foods Company.

The transaction would exclude the WhiteWave trademark but allows Hain to market existing products under the WhiteWave brand for a transitional period under license, the company said.
The product line includes baked and grilled tofu, seitan, tempeh and other traditional tofu items sold through natural and conventional grocery stores as well as in foodservice outlets. The line complements Hain Celestial’s existing meat alternative product offerings in Canada and the United States under the Yves brand, the company said.

The tofu business, which sold products under TofuTown and WhiteWave brand names, generated sales of approximately $8 million in the last fiscal year, Melville, N.Y.-based Hain said.

Other terms of the deal, which is expected to close in June and be accretive to Hain’s earnings during its fiscal year 2008, were not disclosed.

“Adding the tofu and meat-alternative business from WhiteWave Foods complements our existing Yves Veggie Cuisine product line, strengthening and expanding our fresh, meat-free alternative product offerings to further support this sector of the growing natural and organic market,” said Irwin Simon, Hain’s president and chief executive officer. “Purchasing this business will better position the company to increase our meat-free alternative product sales in Canada and the United States, as we integrate the sales and marketing into our existing Yves operation.” -Sustainable Food News

Equal Exchange’s new fundraising program:
cultivating global citizens

Equal Exchange, known for fairly traded coffee, tea and chocolate, is launching a new fundraising and education program for kids. The Equal Exchange Fair Trade Fundraising Program connects children with the farmers who grow their foods, and brings the values and lessons of fair trade into the classroom.

How does the Equal Exchange Fair Trade Fundraiser work? An alternative to conventional fundraisers, Fair Trade fundraising gives children both the profits they need to support the school, and the chance to support the farmers whose products they are selling. Groups sell certified Fair Trade and organic foods, such as delicious chocolate, coffee, tea, pecans and dried cranberries, grown by small-scale farmers around the world and earn 40-percent profits.
After years of trading with small-scale farmers from across the globe, this year Equal Exchange is excited to trade with small-scale U.S. farmers under the Fair Trade principles. The new roasted pecans from Georgia and organic dried cranberries from Massachusetts are now available for school fundraisers.

Teaching tools for the classroom will be available this fall, designed to bring to life the benefits of Fair Trade, including micro-loans for women in Guatemala starting indigenous weaving cooperatives, safe drinking water in Dominican Republic, and new elementary schools in El Salvador. With Equal Exchange’s Fair Trade Fundraising Program children experience how our daily habits of shopping and eating can make the world a better place.

A pioneer in the Fair Trade movement, Equal Exchange was founded 21 years ago on a mission to build an alternative global food system: one based on respect, fairness to farmers and engaged consumers. Sharing this vision with our food co-op partners, Equal Exchange is excited to support the growing number of parents and teachers concerned about how and where their food is grown with the Fair Trade Fundraising Program.

One hundred percent of Equal Exchange products are fairly traded, benefiting over 40 small farmer cooperatives in 19 countries around the world. In keeping with its mission Equal Exchange is a worker cooperative, owned and democratically controlled by its employees. For more information, call 774-776-7371 or email fundraising@equalexchange.coop.

Monsanto and big food attack local rights
to regulate food and crops

Since 1998, the biotech industry and industrial food corporations have unsuccessfully tried to take away local and states’ rights to ban or regulate genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and other controversial foods and crops. For example, OCA and other public interest groups successfully generated a mass outcry in 2006 that blocked the passage of the National Uniformity for Food Act.

This highly unpopular bill would have nullified 200 food safety and food labeling laws across the U.S. Failing to suppress grassroots control over food safety laws and labels in the last session of Congress, industry has now called on their friends in the House Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry to slip a similar poison pill into an obscure section of the voluminous 2007-2012 Farm Bill.

The provision would give the White House appointed Secretary of Agriculture the power to eliminate local or state food and farming laws, such as those in four California counties banning genetically engineered crops, and set an ominous precedent undermining states’ rights. -Organic Consumers Association

Kellogg makes historic settlement agreement,
adopting nutrition standards for marketing foods to children

Kellogg Company will adopt nutrition standards for the foods it advertises to young children, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), and two Massachusetts parents will not proceed with a lawsuit against the company.

Foods advertised on media—including TV, radio, print, and third-party websites—that have an audience of 50 percent or more children under age 12 will have to meet Kellogg’s new nutrition standards, which require that one serving of the food has:

  • No more than 200 calories
  • No more than zero grams of trans fat and no more than 2 grams of saturated fat
  • No more than 230 milligrams of sodium (except for Eggo frozen waffles)
  • No more than 12 grams of sugar (excluding sugar from fruit, dairy, and vegetables). Kellogg will continue its practice of not advertising to children under 6.
In addition, Kellogg will not:
Advertise to children any foods in schools and preschools that include kids under age 12;
Sponsor product placements for any products in any medium primarily directed at kids under 12;
Use licensed characters on mass-media advertising directed primarily to kids under 12, as a basis for a food form or on the front labels of food packages unless those foods meet the nutrition standards.
Use branded toys in connection with foods that do not meet the nutrition standards.

Products that don’t meet the criteria will either be reformulated to meet the Nutrient Criteria or they will no longer be marketed to children under 12 by the end of 2008. The nutrition standard will guide targeted future innovation and product development. Over time, Kellogg will work toward providing consumers even more product choices with enhanced nutritional value. -Center for Science in the Public Interest

Farm Bill provisions boost organic ag infrastructure
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) praised a congressional subcommittee in mid-June for approving a $22 million provision in the 2007 Farm Bill that helps farmers pay for organic certification.

The U.S. House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture approved several key provisions for the contentious legislation that would strengthen the infrastructure for organic agriculture.

One approved measure increases Farmers Market programs to give small and new organic farmers easier access to local markets.

Another shifts $3 million from an organic food certification program to another that collects market and production data about organic farming. USDA will now include data on organic prices and production, and information will be used to analyze crop loss data helping producers manage risk more effectively.

The approved, $22 million provision to help conventional farmers convert to organic production will mean a boost to the certification cost-share program providing up to $750 per farmer, increased from the current $500, to help cover the costs of organic certification;

The subcommittee also included language making loans for water and soil projects to organic producers a priority; and permitted organic transition to begin at the end of CRP (Conservation Reserve Program).

It also gave organic farmers access to EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) Conservation Innovation grants provided that each fiscal year $5 million will be used for outreach to organic and specialty crop producers. -Organic Consumers Association

Foods carrying the USDA ‘95% Organic’ seal are now allowed to contain factory farmed intestines, PCBs, and mercury
Despite receiving more than ten thousand comments from consumers and family farmers opposing various aspects of a late May 2007 proposal, the USDA has approved a rule that will allow 38 new non-organic ingredients to be allowed in products bearing the “USDA Organic” seal. But the agency says this may just be interim approval, and has offered to extend the public comment period another 60 days (the original public comment period was only 7 days).
The Organic Consumers Association filed a petition during the USDA’s short seven-day comment period on the issue outlining various problems with some of the proposed ingredients (read full petition here: http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_5225.cfm). The USDA is required to post all such incoming comments online, and 99% of the comments currently posted there show the public opposes the passage of this proposal.

The USDA’s passage of this proposal has resulted in the following:

  • Anheuser Busch will be allowed to sell its “Organic Wild Hops Beer” without using any organic hops at all.
  • Sausages, brats, and breakfast links labeled as “USDA Organic” are now allowed to contain intestines from factory-farmed animals raised on chemically grown feed, synthetic hormones, and antibiotics.
  • Products labeled as “USDA Organic” and containing fish oil may contain toxins such as PCBs and mercury (note: non-organic fish oil products have this same risk, but despite the USDA ruling, it is against the National Organic Standards to allow such toxins in organic foods).

“It’s disheartening to see how profit motivated businesses like Kraft, Wal-Mart and Anheuser-Busch have more sway over the U.S. Department of Agriculture than family farmers, independent organic producers, and consumers,” said Ronnie Cummins, OCA’s National Director.

OCA’s Environmental Scientist, Craig Minowa, noted that foods labeled as 100% organic will still be 100% organic. “This rule applies to products that are 95% organic or less,” said Minowa of the USDA’s decision, adding that “The ruling is yet another reason for organic-minded shoppers to carefully read ingredient labels, look for ‘100% Organic’ labels, and buy from local family farmers via your area co-op, farmers market or CSA.”
Go to www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/oca/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=11401 for more information. -Organic Consumers Association