60 million consumers alert to the excesses of organic

The magazine 60 million consumers publishes this Wednesday its special summer issue devoted to organic products. After having tested more than 130 products, the verdict is clear: not all products are created equal, and the cheap organic market is subject to many abuses.

Do not be fooled by the green cover of the magazine and its title, “the best of organic”: the main issue of the summer special issue of 60 million consumers published this Wednesday is precisely to detect the worst of organic products, those that do not keep their promises. And they are many.

The magazine published by the National Consumer Institute reviewed more than 130 organic consumer foods, from yoghurts and fruit juices to eggs and ham. Result: the only organic labeled products that can really be trusted are fruits and vegetables, whose progress the magazine welcomes (even if everything is not perfect), particularly with regard to organic apples and bananas.

Industry’s hands on organic

For the rest of the food products, it is something else. If the organic label is supposed to guarantee a product that is good for health and respectful of the environment, it is more often seen as a marketing argument than anything else. In addition, obtaining the precious Organic Farming (AB) label generally leads to an increase in the price, which the deputy editor-in-chief, Christelle Pangrazzi, deplores. In question? A democratization of organic which leads to an assault on this new green El Dorado by the behemoths of the food industry and mass distribution. The latter would see in the rise of organic a way to redeem their conscience and increase their margins without making too much effort, according to the magazine. Thus, supermarkets now market half of organic products.

In fact, show that organic activity now covers in France 7.5% of the useful agricultural area of ​​the country and that 10% of farmers work organically. Sales, meanwhile, are increasing by more than 10% per year while the rest of the food market is declining. This is even more obvious in the livestock sector where last year sales in volume fell by 2.9% but jumped by 55% for so-called “responsible” farms. The organic market thus represents 5% of French food purchases, with more than 10 billion euros in turnover.

The problem is that at present, the organic label does not mean much. Replaced by a European organic label since 2010, the precious appellation seems very unrestrictive. “If the organic charter guarantees a restricted use of pesticides, recalls Christelle Pangrazzi, it authorizes the same residual thresholds as in conventional. Likewise, it may well reduce the number of additives, but it allows the use of sodium nitrites, recognized carcinogens, in charcuterie. Beyond the simple question of consumer health, the organic label is even less demanding at the environmental level. The deputy editor-in-chief notes, for example, that the label “accepts the use of palm oil, the production of which is now known to devastate the forests”.

What products to be wary of?

The special issue reviews all food categories to show how behind the label there are many problems:

– As seen above, the organic label does not necessarily guarantee the absence of palm oil in spreads. The magazine therefore recommends checking whether or not the dough contains this oil, which is devastating for the environment (it is present, for example, in the organic Carrefour jar, or in the Noiseraie spread), especially since some products cost much more expensive than Nutella.

– Organic milk and eggs are certainly pesticide-free, but contain a number of carcinogenic pollutants. They are notably loaded with dioxins and PCBs, and this paradoxically more than so-called conventional products. These dioxins, specifies the magazine, come from industrial discharges, in particular from incinerators, and PCBs, chemicals whose manufacture has been prohibited in France since 1987, have the unfortunate tendency to accumulate in the soil and remain there for years. The magazine points here to an aberration of the organic label which favors pasture farming, but does not control the soil. Thus, the breeder can convert his field to organic, even though he is located near a polluting installation.

– Half of the organic olive oils analyzed contain plasticizers, in particular phthalates. The magazine specifies that the presence of is particularly present in the oils coming from Tunisia (3 out of the 4) and come from the plastic materials used during the olive harvest or for the production of the oil. Plasticizers which then migrate into the fat. By way of comparison, these endocrine disruptors are not found in certain oils that are not certified organic and cost much less. So the price and the label are not necessarily guarantees of quality.

– Many guaranteed organic products. This is particularly the case for organic fruit juices or organic cakes, which are generally very sweet. Among the juices analyzed, Bio Mango-Passion from the Pressade brand is singled out, considered “as sweet” as Coke. In addition, the same brick promotes aromas that are absolutely not the majority in the composition of the product: the label is therefore misleading.

– With regard to the issue of the label, Christelle Pangrazzi also mentions the case of Volvic, which recently launched certified organic water. Problem: the water is not organic, only the lemon juice it contains is, and it represents between 1 and 1.5% of the drink. A bottle sold twice as much as the same non-organic bottle. So do not rely too much on the organic claim, but check the composition.

What solutions?

The magazine not only highlights the issues; it intends to guide the consumer through three solutions:

– Give preference to pioneering brands in this area, which are much safer and offer a wider range of organic products. Among them, the magazine recommends the brand , which is one of the last organic brands still independent. Indeed, Naturalia has belonged to the Casino group since 2008, for example. However, although La Vie claire belongs to two holding companies, the magazine emphasizes efforts in terms of corporate social responsibility.

– , more authentic and qualitative. The magazine highlights the diversification of initiatives aimed at bringing the consumer closer to the producer, from to through the more local initiatives that can be found on the Monpanierbio.com website.

– Finally, the magazine recommends to carry out zero waste shopping, in order to combine organic and environmental fight, against plastic in particular. This sector, in full development, often makes it possible to consume products at a lower price.

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