I have to thank Janelle from Healthy Child for reminding me to post about this. I read about it a few days ago and have been meaning to share it here. Since we published our Formula Analysis, it became evident that just about all organic baby formula uses the DHA/ARA additive using a controversial extraction method that uses a potential neurotoxin called hexane. With the exception of Nature’s One, which uses an aqueous process to extract the additive (although they do not add it to their formula – it is provided as a separate product you can add yourself) all organic formulas use the DHA/ARA extracted with hexane. Almost all the companies I spoke to said much of the same thing. That there is no detectable hexane levels in the formulas and that this hexane extraction method (most commonly coming from a company called Martex Corporation) is the “only FDA approved method of DHA extraction”, which I think isn’t the case but that’s another article.
The Department of Agriculture had said three years ago that this DHA additive “violated federal standards and should be banned from products carrying the federal organic label“. That was of course overruled by a USDA manager who was being heavily lobbied by formula makers.
This decision by the Obama administration to ban the additives from organic food is a good step in the direction we all want things to go. Better regulations on organic food and more confidence from consumers that the USDA seal actually means something and isn’t governed by deals and lobbyists. Of course, the executives who have a monetary interest in seeing these additives remain in organic food will lobby against this decision. But in the meantime the USDA will craft guidelines in phasing out the additives.
Update: I want to make it clear that this ban was limited to organic baby formula and baby food. I also think personally that the addition of DHA to baby formula is a positive thing and by no means should anyone stop using products containing DHA, including Milk or supplements. I’m merely interested in the processing methods and what that means for organic baby products.