Category Archives: Food Safety

The Truth About Agave Nectar

Agave Nectar is a natural sweetener made from the juice of the agave, a plant native to Central Mexico. It is a versatile sweetener with a low glycemic index (32) perfect for coffee, smoothies, tea and more. It has 1.4 times the sweetness of white sugar but less viscosity than honey. While there is no such thing as a “healthy” sweetener – we recommend everything in moderation – this is a great natural alternative.

Above are flavored varieties of Madhava Agave Nectar, it also comes in Light & Amber.

A recent article by Dr. Mercola, an online alternative-health personality, suggests the use of agave as a sweetener is somehow harmful. This statement is based on half truths and to prove it we’re taking you right to the source – OUR source – for real, all-natural agave nectar: Madhava.

From Madhava’s Agave Mythbuster website:

“Dr. Mercola is mistaken as regards agave nectar. Agave’s rise in popularity is due to its quality and appeal which have led to widespread demand for it by consumers worldwide. Dr. Mercola though insinuates that agave’s success is simply the result of clever marketing, and this is far from the truth. His presentation of this article and unsubstantiated opinions is to us a real example of negative marketing as he clearly uses fear in lieu of fact to promote his agenda. Dr. Mercola appears to be leading the reader down a biased path to a negative conclusion. He has used fear tactics to propagandize against agave nectar and Madhava feels that this is outrageous and must be answered.

Click here to read an article released [March 23], based on scientific research, and right in Mercola’s field as an osteopathic physician, [this] is an example of actual research he chooses not to reveal to his readers in his attempt to bias them. He has been selective in the information he disseminates and this severely limits his credibility on the subject of agave.

This is disheartening, because so many people rely upon Dr. Mercola for their alternative health information. People are being led to believe that use of agave to sweeten is somehow harmful and this is not the case. There is hard evidence to the contrary, and only negative associations and suppositions to form the attack.

To address Dr. Mercola’s claims:

1. Poor Quality Control. There are very few quality controls in place to monitor the production of agave syrup. Nearly all agave sold in the U.S. comes from Mexico. Industry insiders are concerned that agave producers are using lesser, even toxic, agave plants due to a shortage of blue agave.

This is an outright fabrication. Madhava’s Quality Control representatives routinely visit and inspect all our suppliers’ facilities in Mexico. The suppliers are Organically Certified and 3rd party audited or in the process of being so. Each has an in house laboratory for analysis and quality control. In addition our facility in Colorado is USDA Organic Certified and we are routinely inspected as well. Mercola makes it sound like these are poorly run, low budget operations in Mexico, and this could not be further from the truth. These are immaculate facilities that are conducted extremely professionally, run by highly intelligent individuals with high standards that easily meet international levels. Madhava is quite fortunate to be working with such reputable companies. And, it has been well documented in newspapers both in Mexico and the US that there has been an overabundance of supply of agave plants, not a shortage in any way. Madhava staff has personally witnessed fields left to go to seed after eight years invested due to the current surplus. Dr. Mercola fabricated his statement to shamefully suggest “toxic” plants could be used and create more unwarranted doubt. If he had facts he would not need to resort to fear.

2. Pesticides. There are also concerns that some distributors are cutting agave syrup with corn syrup — how often and to what extent is anyone’s guess. In addition, the FDA has refused shipments of agave syrup due to excessive pesticide residues.

Any concerns are due only to rumors such as this. Madhava’s Agave Nectar is 100% pure from the agave plant with no additives whatsoever. We package the agave nectar at our own facility by the foothills of the Colorado Rockies. Madhava would be very interested in his source of information about the FDA refusing shipments. We know without a doubt that none of our shipments have ever been refused and turned back, and know of no others that have been either. We believe Dr Mercola would post a fact or cite an example if he had one.

3. Saponins. Agave is known to contain large amounts of saponins. Saponins are toxic steroid derivatives, capable of disrupting red blood cells and producing diarrhea and vomiting. There is also a possible link between saponins and miscarriage by stimulating blood flow to the uterus, so if you’re pregnant, you should definitely avoid agave products.

This is clearly a cruel scare tactic. The fact is that saponins are in a lot of foods we eat. There are many varieties just as there are over 200 varieties of the agave plant. Most beans and legumes, soya beans, onions, paprika, alfalfa – these all contain saponins. Saponins are phytosterol compounds that occur naturally in some plants. Saponins have antimicrobial and antifungal properties, along with anti-inflammatory and immune-stimulating properties. As for agave syrup, there is no evidence to cause concern, there has never been a report of agave nectar linked to a miscarriage, and there is a long history of use. From the prehispanic times, the only sweet treat available to Indians in Mexico was the cooked leaves of the agave plant. They are still in markets all over Mexico. If there would be any kind of dangerous substance, this would be the absolute extreme case of exposure to it; not a single case of any problem has ever been documented, this goes back over seven centuries. Agave Nectar in its present form has been sold for over 12 years all over the world, including western Europe, Japan and the U.S.. The product has a proven record of safety and is deemed safe by the FDA and all regulatory bodies all over the world.

4. Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF). Some agave syrups contain a contaminant called hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF, also called 5-hydroxymethyl furfural), an organic heat-formed compound that arises in the processing of fructose — in both agave syrup and HFCS. HMF has potential toxic, mutagenic and carcinogenic effects[iv]. HMF is EXTREMELY toxic to honey bees, which is a problem since commercial beekeepers feed HFCS to the bees to stimulate honey production when field-gathered nectar sources are scarce[v].

Some agave is thermally processed. They can have a resulting HMF content of 5-7 milligrams per kilogram. To put this into perspective we are talking about 5 parts per million. Raw agave may be a bit higher due to longer periods of heating at the lower temperatures, but still negligible and presents no health concern. Agave produced enzymatically will be HMF free. HMF is also commonly found to a much greater degree in wine.

5. Nutrient Void. Agave syrup is not a whole food — it is fractionated and processed, devoid of the nutrients contained in the original, whole plant.

But, you can’t use the whole plant to sweeten your foods. There is no sweetener that is a whole food, that is the nature of them. His charge is meaningless in reference to sweeteners. Sugars are not consumed as a meal, they are ingredients and an important part of a balanced diet.

6. Enzymes. Agave syrup is not a live food. The natural enzymes are removed to prevent agave syrup from fermenting and turning into tequila in your food pantry or cabinet.

Actually, tequila is distilled so you unfortunately will not be able to produce it in your pantry. Digestion though is accomplished by enzymes, to break food down into a simple form which can easily be absorbed. Like honey, agave is already in its simple form and does not require digestion, enzymes nor exertion for our system to utilize them.

7. Addictiveness. Agave is, for all intents and purposes, highly concentrated sugar. Sugar and sweeteners wreak havoc on your health and are highly addictive.

Sugar and sweeteners are an important part of one’s diet. People enjoy them and will use them. The important message is to moderate the overall consumption of sweeteners and calories in general. In the context of a normal everyday balanced diet, Mercola’s views are not substantiated.”

As always, we research every product in our stores and stand behind Madhava’s response. However we do agree with Mercola on one thing – his website states “You are wise to question whom you can trust when it comes to maintaining, enhancing or rebuilding your health . . . It is essential to ask, ‘What is their real motivation?’” We leave it up to you to review his website (and online store of his own private-label products) and decide for yourself who you should trust.

Contact Your Congressman Today to Save Supplements & Organic Dairy

Right now there are two issues in the Florida Senate that we think you should be concerned about – the Financial Services Reform Act and the Ban on Genetically Modified Alfalfa.

Save Your Supplements – Oppose the FTC Power Provision

From the Natural Products Association website:

The Financial Services Reform Act (S.3217) has passed the Senate. While expansion of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) powers was kept out of the Senate Bill, now the House and Senate must work out the differences between the chambers’ versions. The expansions being discussed could have a dire impact on the natural products industry.
Should these additional powers be granted to the FTC, you can expect to see the following:

- The FTC creating advertising guidelines that are inconsistent with what is allowed under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) and the FDA

- The FTC acting as a legislative body, creating “rules” for industries like ours in areas in which it has no expertise

- The FTC levying fines against businesses for practices it deems illegal without allowing the business to change its policies

- The FTC levying fines against companies for “aiding and abetting” wrongdoing even when the companies did not know a violation was occurring

- The FTC making, approving, and policing rules with virtually no oversight

So many Americans rely on supplements for day to day heath and major health issues. CLICK HERE to Take Action and send a message to your members of Congress, urging them to OPPOSE the FTC provision.

Save Organic Dairy – Ban GE Alfalfa

From the Organic Trade Association website:

This is a Supreme Court case about the release of Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” Alfalfa.  After USDA originally approved the genetically engineered crop, the Center for Food Safety sued on behalf of farmers and allied organizations. In 2007, the court agreed with the plaintiffs and ordered more analysis on the crop’s impacts. In the interim, the court halted any further planting. The main impact the court ordered USDA go back and analyze was the harm to conventional and organic farmers from transgenic contamination: the likelihood of cross-pollination between fields and feral sources by wild and managed bees, the mixing of seeds and other means. It was because of this loss to farmers from unwanted transgenic contamination of their ability to sow the crop of their choice (and potential lost markets such as organic or exports) that the Court also halted the planting. The court of appeals twice affirmed the district court’s decision in 2008 and 2009. In January of this year, despite even the government’s opposition, Monsanto was able to get the Supreme Court to take the case.

This is the first time ever a court has recognized a farmer’s right to choose in this legal context. It is the first time a court has held transgenic contamination as an injury with legal consequences in this context and issued an injunction. The court concluded that the threat of irreparable harm to conventional and organic alfalfa farmers of the loss of the ability to grow non-GE alfalfa outweighed the solely economic harm to Monsanto. The Supreme Court could reverse all of those legal conclusions. It could rule that contamination harm is not enough to gain an injunction, or that the balance of the equities should have favored Monsanto and its allied partners.  It could rule that even if a crop is ruled illegally approved, as in this case, that a court could not halt the planting until proper analysis of its impact is done.

Alfalfa is a major food source for livestock and if GE alfalfa was release into the environment it would mean the end of the organic dairy industry, a $1.4 billion industry, as we know it.

Email Your Florida Senator Bill Nelson and ask him to sign the letter being circulated by Representative DeFazio (D-OR4) and Senator Leahy (D-VT) asking the USDA to maintain the ban on genetically modified (GM) alfalfa seed.

Thank you!

NEW! Gluten-Free Bakery at Native Sun

We have a large segment of customers who shop at Native Sun because they must follow a special diet for their health and cannot find the products they need at a conventional grocery store. We have always given special diets special attention from the variety of products we stock to our unique color coded shelf tagging system that easily identifies gluten-free, casein-free, no peanut added and low sodium products. That is why we are so excited to announce the official opening of the Native Sun Gluten-Free Bakery!

While we have been using no-gluten added recipes in the Native Sun Bakery since April 2009, we now have trained staff, a dedicated area and quality control procedures in place to run a completely contained gluten-free bakery. In addition, bakery items are also periodically tested to assure product safety. 

This effort was led by our Food Education Coordinator Ginny Nehring, whose son Brad is on a gluten-free diet for the treatment of Celiac Disease. Ginny has also authored a gluten-free cookbook called Brad’s Basics and offers free store tours for customers new to shopping for gluten-free, casein-free and other special diet needs.

Look for the items below in-store now & new recipes coming soon!

GF Oatmeal Creme Pies
GF Chocolate Chip Cake
GF Chocolate Brownies
GF Apple Cake
GF Carrot Cake
GF Pound Cake
GF Muffins And More

Individual items are sold by the Juice Bar and Deli at both locations. Large quantity orders or full cakes for birthdays, weddings or other special occasions are available by pre-order.

We hope our new Gluten-Free Bakery will allow children & adults with Celiac Disease and other GF special diets to enjoy cakes, desserts, muffins and other scrumptious goodies that they would otherwise have to pass on or make from scratch. We also want to assure our non gluten-free dieters that these treats are as delicious as any “regular” recipe. The proof is in the pound cake!

Expanding HVP Recall for Possible Salmonella

BE AWARE! HVP stands for hydrolyzed vegetable protein, a flavor enhancer used in a wide variety of processed food products. It seems a main supplier out of Las Vegas may be contaminated with Salmonella, thus endangering hundreds of products across the United States. Consumption of products containing Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly persons and others with weakened immune systems.

At this time we do not carry any of the affected products, but will stay on top of this issue for your safety. While many of these recalls are voluntary, they still pose a risk and we urge you to choose your meals with caution until this issue is resolved.


“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is actively investigating findings of Salmonella Tennessee in hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) manufactured by Basic Food Flavors, Inc., in Las Vegas, NV. HVP is a flavor enhancer used in a wide variety of processed food products, such as soups, sauces, chilis, stews, hot dogs, gravies, seasoned snack foods, dips, and dressings. It is often blended with other spices to make seasonings that are used in or on foods.”

At this time, no illnesses associated with this contamination have been reported to the FDA.


Items Recalled as of March 8, 2010:

Johnny’s Fine Foods French Dip Powdered Au Jus

T. Marzetti Southwest Ranch Veggie Dip

T. Marzetti Fat Free Southwest Ranch Veggie Dip

T. Marzetti Spinach Veggie Dip

Oak Lake Farms French Onion Chip Dip

Great ValueRanch Chip Dip

CastellaChicken Soup Base

Hawaiian Kettle Style Potato Chips – Sweet Maui Onion

Hawaiian Sweet Maui Onion Rings

Homemade Gourmet Tortilla Soup Mix

Follow Your Heart BBQ Braised Tofu

Follow Your Heart Cheezy Garlic Pasta

Follow Your Heart Curried Tofu

Follow Your Heart Curried Tofu with Rice 

Follow Your Heart Heartsmart Burger

Follow Your Heart Kung Pao Tofu

Follow Your Heart Kung Pao Tofu with Rice

Follow Your Heart Savory Tofu Saute

Follow Your Heart Smoked “Chicken” Pasta

Follow Your Heart Sweet & Sour Tofu

Follow Your Heart Thai Peanut Tofu

Follow Your Heart Thai Peanut Tofu Wrap

Follow Your Heart Thai Peanut Braised Tofu

Follow Your Heart Texas Tofu

Follow Your Heart Veggie Burrito with Cheese

Follow Your Heart Low Fat Veggie Burrito

Follow Your Heart Beef Al Jus

Follow Your Heart Organic Creamy Ranch Dressing

Trader Joe’s Organic Creamy Ranch Dressing & Dip

Reser’s Ranch House Dressing

Reser’s Creamy Ranch Dip

Reser’s Clam Dip

Reser’s French Onion Dip

Reser’s Cheese and Bacon Dip

Reser’s Redskin Potato Safeway

Reser’s Potato RedSkin Walmart

Reser’s Redskin Potato

Reser’s Ranch Dip

Herbox  Beef Bouillon

Herbox  Chicken Bouillon

Herbox  Vegetable Bouillon

Concord Foods  Foods Vegetable Dip Seasoning – Homestyle

McCormick French Onion Dip Mix

McCormick Vegetable Dip Mix

McCormick Onion Gravy Mix

McCormick Corn Bread Stuffing

Delicioso Spinach Dip

De la Casa Spinach Dip

Rojo’s Garden Fresh Spinach Dip

Fresh Food Concepts Garden Fresh Spinach Dip

Fresh Food Concepts Spinach Dip with Real Yogurt

HK Anderson Honey Mustard Pretzel Bites

CVS Honey Mustard Pretzel Bites

President’s Choice Honey Mustard Onion Pretzel Bite

Safeway Honey Mustard Onion Nugget

Sunflower Markets Honey Mustard Nugget

National Pretzel Company Honey Mustard Onion Pretzel Pieces

National Pretzel Company Honey Mustard Onion Pretzel Bites

National Pretzel Company Whole Grain Honey Mustard Nuggets

Great Nut Supply Honey Mustard Pretzels

Spec’s Wines & Fine Foods Honey Mustard Pretzels

Great Nut Supply Bar Mix

Spec’s Wines & Fine Foods Bar Mix

Rouses Louisiana’s Best Bar Mix

Spec’s Wines & Fine Foods Honey Cheddar Mix


Items Recalled as of March 11, 2010:

Publix Mushroom Gravy Mix                               

Publix Meatloaf Seasoning                                          

Publix Beef Flavored Stew Mix                            

Publix Au Jus Gravy Mix

Dean’s Creamy Taco Dip

Dean’s Green Onion Dip

Dean’s Ranch Dip

Dean’s Guacamole Dip

Dean’s Zesty Guacamole Dip

Dean’s French Onion Dip

Dean’s French Onion w/Bacon Dip

Quaker Snack Mix Baked Cheddar


For Updates:

Click here for a PDF of all the recalled products.

Click here to check for any updates on the recall list.

Voluntary Recall for Glaceau SmartWater

In a letter dated March 5, 2010 Coca-Cola North America issued a Voluntary Product Recall for SmartWater, PET Bottles with codes “BEST BY 091411″ through “BEST BY 110311″ and case codes starting with “SS”. The letter states:

“While conducting regular smartwater product quality testing, we have found that these beverages with the date codes listed above do not meet FDA’s quality standard for bottled water, nor do they meet our own quality standards. We have enhanced our regular testing protocols for every lot of smartwater to ensure that the product meets our high quality standards before it is allowed to leave the bottling plant for shipping to retailers. Any lot which does not measure up is destroyed. Only the bottle and case codes described above with plant code of SS are affected. No other lots of smartwater are affected. We regret the inconvenience this issue has caused and thank you for your cooperation.”

We have pulled the affected product from our shelves for your safety. Please see Customer Service with any questions.

Protect Your Right to Organic Dairy!!!

The USDA is currently working to get Monsanto’s RoundUp-ready, pesticide-resistant alfalfa to market. Why should you care? Alfalfa is open-pollinated by bees, which can cross-pollinate at distances of several miles, spreading Monsanto’s patented, foreign DNA to conventional and organic crops. Organic alfalfa hay is a mainstay for organic dairy cows. No organic alfalfa hay, means the end of organic dairy as we know it!

GMO-contamination of organic alfalfa is inevitable if the Obama Administration successfully commercializes Monsanto’s genetically-modified alfalfa. Learn more here. You MUST speak up before Wednesday, March 3 to be heard!

Click here to TAKE ACTION ONLINE NOW or call the number below:

Dr. Aundrea Huberty
Biotechnology Regulatory Services, APHIS
4700 River Road, Unit 146
Riverdale, MD 20737-1236
Refer to: Docket No. APHIS-2007-0044

NEW! So Delicious Coconut Milk Coffee Creamer

Customers with food allergies have long been asking for alternatives to traditional dairy & soy creamers and we are happy to now offer So Delicious, the world’s first coconut milk creamer in three flavors: Original, French Vanilla and Hazelnut.

So Delicious is a delectable & healthy alternative to traditional creamers and coconut milk is naturally rich in medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) such as lauric and capric acid, which are known for supporting the body’s immune system. So Delicious creamers are:

• Dairy Free / Lactose Free
• Soy Free
• Gluten Free
• Rich in Medium Chain Fatty Acids
• Cholesterol Free
• No Trans Fats
• Certified Vegan

Some of you may also notice the ingredient Titanium Dioxide (TD) on the label. At Native Sun we are very cautious as to which products we bring in containing this ingredient. Due to modern science TD has been made available in ultra fine nano-particulate. There is concern that particulate this fine may be harmful to humans when used in cosmetics. For this reason we have banned products containing nano-particulate from our personal care & beauty department. However at this time, we have found no evidence or studies showing ANY toxicity using this ingredient as a natural food coloring agent. As always, we will review and re-review ingredients in products that we carry. Your food safety and right to clean food is our utmost priority. Thank you for your trust!

2010: The Year of Eating Organically, by OCA

On December 30, 2009 the Organic Consumer Association sent out their Organic Bytes newsletter #206 titled “2010 – The Year of Eating Organically”. When making your resolutions to live better in 2010, consider the information below if not for your own health, for the health of your family, the environment, animal welfare and the planet.

Organic Food is More Nutritious
Organic foods, especially raw or non-processed, contain higher levels of beta carotene, vitamins C, D and E, health-promoting polyphenols, cancer-fighting antioxidants, flavonoids that help ward off heart disease, essential fatty acids, and essential minerals.

On the average, organic food is 25% more nutritious in terms of vitamins and minerals than products derived from industrial agriculture. Since on the average, organic food’s shelf price is only 20% higher than chemical food, this makes it actually cheaper, gram for gram, than chemical food, even ignoring the astronomical hidden costs (damage to health, climate, environment, and government subsidies) of industrial food production. Levels of antioxidants in milk from organic cattle are between 50% and 80% higher than normal milk. Organic wheat, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, onions and lettuce have between 20% and 40% more nutrients than non-organic foods.

Organic food contains qualitatively higher levels of essential minerals (such as calcium, magnesium, iron and  chromium), that are severely depleted in chemical foods grown on pesticide and nitrate fertilizer-abused soil. UK and US government statistics indicate that levels of trace minerals in (non-organic) fruit and vegetables fell by up to 76% between 1940 and 1991.

Organic Food is Pure Food, Free of Chemical Additives
Organic food doesn’t contain food additives, flavor enhancers (like MSG), artificial sweeteners (like aspartame and high-fructose corn syrup), contaminants (like mercury) or preservatives (like sodium nitrate), that can cause health problems.

Eating organic has the potential to lower the incidence of autism, learning disorders, diabetes, cancer, coronary heart disease, allergies, osteoporosis, migraines, dementia, and hyperactivity.

Organic Food Is Safer
Organic food doesn’t contain pesticides. More than 400 chemical pesticides are routinely used in conventional farming and residues remain on non-organic food even after washing. Children are especially vulnerable to pesticide exposure. One class of pesticides, endocrine disruptors, are likely responsible for early puberty and breast cancer. Pesticides are linked to asthma and cancer.

Organic food isn’t genetically modified. Under organic standards, genetically modified (GM) crops and ingredients are prohibited.

Organic animals aren’t given drugs. Organic farming standards prohibit the use of antibiotics, growth hormones and genetically modified vaccines in farm animals. Hormone-laced beef and dairy consumption is correlated with increased rates of breast, testis and prostate cancers.

Organic animals aren’t fed animal remains or slaughterhouse waste, blood, or manure. Eating organic reduces the risks of CJD, the human version of mad cow disease, as well as Alzheimer’s.

Organic animals aren’t fed arsenic.

Organic animals aren’t fed byproducts of corn ethanol production (which increases the rate of E. coli contamination).

Organic crops aren’t fertilized with toxic sewage sludge or coal waste, or irrigated with E. coli contaminated sewage water.

Organic food isn’t irradiated. Cats fed a diet of irradiated food got multiple sclerosis within 3-4 months.

Organic food contains less illness-inducing bacteria. Organic chicken is free of salmonella and has a reduced incidence of campylobacter.

Organic Food Contains No Hidden Costs
As taxpayers, we pay for the hidden health and environmental costs of industrial agricultural. These include the pollution of our drinking water with pesticides, fertilizer and animal waste from conventional farms.

Organic Food Is Certified to High Standards
Organic food comes from trusted sources that are inspected to ensure compliance with the rigorous organic standards.

Organic Food Protects Animal Welfare
Organic methods provide for animals. Animal welfare is taken very seriously under organic standards.

Organic Food Is Good for the Planet
Organic food is good for wildlife and the environment. Organic farming is better for wildlife, causes less pollution and waste, and produces fewer global warming gases.

Organic Food Tastes Better
Organic food is more flavorful. Many people prefer organic food because they say it tastes better.

Look for the USDA Organic Seal or the Words “Made With Organic Ingredients”. When you see the USDA Organic seal, you know that the food is at least 95% organic, does not contain genetically modified organisms, was not irradiated, and comes from a farm that:

- Employs positive soil building, conservation, manure management and crop rotation practices.
- Provides outdoor access and pasture for livestock.
- Refrains from antibiotic and hormone use in animals.
- Sustains animals on 100% organic feed.
- Keeps records of all operations.
- Is inspected annually by an accredited Third-Party Organic Certifier.
If it is a multi-ingredient product, it was made at a certified organic processing plant that takes strict measures to avoid contamination of organic products.

Products that are “Made With Organic Ingredients” are at least 70% organic and are also free of genetically modified organisms and food irradiation.

You can subscribe to OCA’s Organic Bytes newletter here.

Lawsuits Against Aurora Dairy Dropped!?!?


Most of you have never heard of Aurora Dairy, but you definitely have seen their products. They are THE organic dairy producer for grocery stores’ “generic” brands of organic milk and butter products. Their goal is to make organic dairy affordable for the masses.  This sounds great, but at what cost?  Does the consumer prefer the word organic to be placed on the label or would they like organically produced milk inside the carton?

Ever since the USDA has taken over to “regulate” the organic industry, large companies have been working to degrade and evade the standards to fit the price and business model. What once was the marking of quality, purity and integrity, has becomes the USDA seal that represents that the manufacturer has paid to be certified and that an inspector will come check up on their paperwork and procedures once a year. Any violations found will result in giving the manufacturer time to correct the violations in order to keep the organic certification.

Aurora was accused of having “14″ willful violations of the organic rules when inspected by the USDA.

Accusations ranged from selling milk from non-organic cows awaiting the one year time frame to convert to organic, to not letting cows out to pasture due to over processing. I have not met an organic milk consumer who thought that cows that were not yet certified were appropriate milk sources for their organic milk, or one that felt organic cows that have no access (in some of Aurora’s cases) to pasture would make for a good end product. 

Aurora does not practice organics in the way that consumers expect or perceive it to be. They do follow the rules when an inspector is present, and that, they have proved in court.

I believe this represents a new trend of large food manufacturers manipulating the meaning and rules to make organic a marketing tool for them, while degrading quality and expectation for the rest of us (the real organic consumers).

Sonja Tuitele, vice president of communications for Aurora said it best, “Because Aurora Organic Dairy’s products have always been produced with valid organic certifications, this outcome ends any disputes or questions about whether our products are organic. This is also a victory for the organic industry as a whole, as it bolsters consumer confidence that they can trust products bearing the USDA organic seal.”

Mr. Tuitele is happy enough with what certifiers say and what a government agency can regulate, rather than what the consumer expects and has the right to be delivered. The organic industry he is speaking of is now lining the shelves of our country’s supermarkets and discount stores rather than our natural food stores where the concept was born.

Natural food stores with integrity are now doing their own reviews to ensure the customer gets what they expect despite the national organic standards. That is exactly what Native Sun has been doing since we opened in 1997, and it is what we will continue to do to ensure your health, safety and trust.

SIGG Bottle Liners Show Traces of BPA

Last week we received a letter from Steve Wasik, CEO of SIGG Switzerland admitting our worst fear – trace amounts of BPA were found in the liner used for all of their aluminum water bottles manufactured before August 2008.


“Prior to its transition [in August 2008], SIGG utilized a water-based epoxy liner which contained a trace amount of BPA. The bottles were thoroughly and regularly tested in both the USA and Switzerland and all tests revealed absolutely no migration or leaching of BPA or any other substance from the protective inner liner. These tests have been public information on the SIGG website for several years and remain there today.

Despite the fact that these bottles were manufactured well within strict international regulations and posed no health risk, my team and I initiated a project in June 2006 to develop a new liner which would be both BPA free and produced in a more environmentally friendly manner. We recognized early that there were questions surrounding BPA and we wanted to be sure that we had a bottle liner that you, our customers, could have absolute confidence in.

 After two years of comprehensive testing and development and a one million dollar investment in new equipment for our Swiss factory, SIGG began producing bottles with our new, next generation “EcoCare” liner in August 2008. Providing the same quality and protection afforded by the previous liner, this new powder-based, co-polyester coating has been thoroughly tested and is certified to be 100% free of BPA, phthalates, BADGE, BFDGE, and NOGE. It is also environmentally friendly as its application generates virtually no waste and utilizes no organic solvents or VOCs. Our new bottle liner is not only a technological advance; it’s a major step forward in SIGG’s journey towards sustainability.

To be clear, all SIGG bottles made since August 2008 contain our new BPA free EcoCare liner. SIGG bottles manufactured prior to August 2008 have the former water-based epoxy liner which contains trace amounts of BPA. These bottles have been thoroughly tested and showed 0% leaching of BPA. It is easy to determine which liner you have, as they are of 2 distinctly different colors. Visit to see photos comparing the two.”

If you have any questions, you can email Steve at

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used primarily to make plastics, but also in the synthesis of polyesters, as an antioxidant in some plasticizers, and as a polymerization inhibitor in PVC. It is a key monomer in production of epoxy resins and in the most common form of polycarbonate plastic used to make a variety of common products including baby and water bottles, sports equipment, medical and dental devices, dental fillings and sealants, eyeglass lenses, CDs and DVDs, and household electronics.

Suspected of being hazardous to humans since the 1930s, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that current levels of exposure to BPA are not an immediate health risk. However, the FDA acknowledges that more research is needed. If you’re concerned about potential risk, Mayo Clinic suggests taking these simple steps to reduce your and your family’s exposure to BPA:

  • Choose glass or BPA-free plastic baby bottles.
  • Use glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers for hot foods and liquids.
  • Avoid plastic containers with the No. 7 recycling label — they’re made with BPA.
  • Don’t microwave polycarbonate plastic food containers. Use glass containers designed for microwaving.
  • Reduce your use of canned foods — many cans are lined with a BPA-containing resin 
Did you know? Eden Organic Beans are packaged in BPA-free cans!

Tip: Eden Organic Beans are packaged in BPA-free cans!

When we first considered carrying SIGG bottles years ago, owner Aaron Gottlieb and his staff researched the materials and manufacturing processes of SIGG Switzerland in depth to ensure this exact situation would never happen. Every piece of information we found about SIGG was positive, no sign of even the slightest worry of BPA contamination.

We are very dismayed to find out that we were misinformed, that SIGG itself was aware of possible trace BPAs in their liners and that not even the most thorough research was able to turn up any public information on the issue. This is just another example of how BPAs are hidden in our society – first plastic bottles, now aluminum bottles, what’s next?  

Prior to this information being released, we had already decided as a company to no longer carry SIGG bottles in our stores. This decision was based on inconsistencies in the product and also the lack of transparency of the company (ie. they would not fully disclose what was in their liners). Once our current stock of SIGG bottles run out, we will be carrying a line called Klean Kanteen. We look forward to offering you a safer, quality option for reusable water bottles.

NOTE: This is not a recall of SIGG products. Testing has showed no leaching of BPAs from the liner into your water, however if you would like to return your old (manufactured prior to August 2008) SIGG bottle, you may bring it into either Native Sun location for a new replacement SIGG of the same size.