-WJLA SCRIPT- http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0508/521743.html
TONIGHT - AN I-TEAM INVESTIGATION. WHAT DO YOU KNOW KNOW ABOUT ORGANIC FOODS? IT'S PESTICIDE FREE AND MORE EXPENSIVE...BUT IT'S WORTH IT... RIGHT? NOT NECESSARILY. WOULD YOU BELIEVE *ORGANICALLY GROWN* IN CHINA? HOW ORGANIC CAN THAT BE? THE I-Team's ROBERTA BASKIN HAS BEEN INVESTIGATING AND HAS QUESTIONS FOR ONE MAJOR FOOD CHAIN.
ROBERTA IN STUDIO:
WHOLE FOODS… IT'S THE LEADING FOOD RETAILER SELLING THE IMAGE THAT LOCAL AND ORGANIC IS BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND BETTER FOR YOU. BUT IS THAT …IN FACT…WHAT THE CUSTOMER IS GETTING?
WITH 175 STORES… WHOLE FOODS IS THE UNDISPUTED LEADER IN ORGANIC FOODS AND PROMOTES "LOCALLY GROWN." BUT THE I-TEAM HAS FOUND THAT MUCH OF WHOLE FOODS ORGANICS… ARE IMPORTED FROM CHINA.
Click Here to Comment on this Story
Shopper: “Honestly I never would have flipped it over to see that it was from China.”
SPINACH…. SUGAR SNAP PEAS… AND WOULD YOU BELIEVE CALIFORNIA BLEND VEGETABLES? ALL LISTED UNDER THE WHOLE FOODS BRAND "365 ORGANIC." AND ON THE BACK IN SMALL PRINT… PRODUCT OF CHINA.
ORGANIC ENSURES NO CHEMICAL PESTICIDES AND ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY CONDITIONS. BUT HOW DO WE EVEN KNOW THE FOOD IS ORGANIC? FOODS SOLD IN THIS COUNTRY MUST BE APPROVED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE BEFORE THEY CAN DISPLAY THE ORGANIC LABEL.
"The oversight that they have in China is not the same kind of supervision that we have in the United States."
BUT THE USDA DOESN'T INSPECT IMPORTED FOODS. IT CERTIFIES PRIVATE INSPECTORS TO DO THE JOB. WHOLE FOODS EMPLOYS A COMPANY CALLED QUALITY ASSURANCE INTERNATIONAL. BUT THE COMPANY CONFIRMS "QAI HAS NOT CERTIFIED ANY PRODUCTS IN CHINA." THEY RELY ON ANOTHER CERTIFIER ON THE FARM. YET THERE'S THE QAI CERTIFICATION SEAL… THE USDA SEAL…. AND PRODUCT OF CHINA…ALL ON THE SAME WHOLE FOODS PACKAGE.
Linda Greer: "So you have to ask yourself the question, how would they ever know if the organic rules are being followed?"
LINDA GREER IS A SENIOR SCIENTIST AT THE NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL, AN ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCACY GROUP. SHE'S BEEN TO FARMS IN CHINA.
Linda Greer: "I wouldn’t buy something organic from China with the idea that it’s truly organic."
BASKIN: "Why not?"
LG: "The reason is we’ve had such a difficult time tracking things."
THERE'S GROWING CONCERN ABOUT THE QUALITY OF FOOD FROM CHINA. ALREADY THIS YEAR THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION WHICH CHECKS FOR FOOD SAFETY STOPPED 260 SHIPMENTS OF FOODS LIKE STRAWBERRIES CONTAMINATED WITH BAD PESTICIDES, BACTERIA OR FILTH.
Linda Greer: "I think it’s probably not an accident that product of China is in such small type."
THE I-TEAM OBTAINED THIS INTERNAL COMPANY DOCUMENT FROM WHOLE FOODS LISTING THE COUNTRY OF ORIGIN FOR HUNDREDS OF ITS PRODUCTS…DOZENS OF ORGANICS….MANY FROM CHINA…EVERYTHING FROM ASPARAGUS SPEARS TO PINE NUTS TO CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER. WHOLE FOODS WOULDN'T ALLOW OUR CAMERAS IN ITS STORE, SO WE BOUGHT THE PRODUCTS AND STEPPED OUTSIDE TO SHOW SHOPPERS.
Mom: "It's definitely misleading. If they were proud of it being from China, they would be, it would be prominently displayed on the front. I’m sure."
SHOPPERS WE TALKED TO WERE MOST SURPRISED BY WHOLE FOODS ORGANIC CALIFORNIA BLEND OF CAULIFLOWER, CARROTS, AND BROCCOLI.
"If they're going to put into bold "California" on the label, they shouldn't put China in fine print on the back."
WE ALSO WENT TO THE FRESHFARM MARKETS AT DUPONT CIRCLE… WHERE PEOPLE TAKE THEIR ORGANIC FOOD VERY SERIOUSLY.
Zachariah "Oh, but it’s from China, what a travesty."
"Product of China! Whoa, look at that!"
BERNADINE PRINCE, FOUNDER OF THIS MARKET SAYS WHOLE FOODS SHOPPERS SHOULD BE ASKING QUESTIONS.
Prince: "The first thing I would do is say, ‘Okay Whole Foods, is this really organic?” "How do you know it’s organic? Because I don’t know."
LINDA GREER SAYS PEOPLE SHOULD BE ASKING THE GOVERNMENT QUESTIONS.
Linda Greer: "Consumers are probably blissfully unaware that the government is not protecting them."
ROBERTA IN STUDIO:
WHOLE FOODS OFFICIALS DECLINED TO BE INTERVIEWED FOR OUR REPORT. THEY SENT A STATEMENT TO SAY THEY RELY ON THIRD PARTY INSPECTORS WHICH INCLUDES A USDA-ACCREDITED AGENT TO MEET THE ORGANIC STANDARDS. BUT WHOLE FOODS WOULD NOT TELL US WHO THIS THIRD PARTY ACCREDITED AGENT IS - ON THE FARMS IN CHINA.
WHOLE FOODS ALSO SAYS SHOPPERS CONCERNED ABOUT PURCHASING FROM CHINA CAN PURCHASE DOMESTIC ALTERNATIVES IN THEIR STORES.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CHECK OUR WEBSITE, WJLA.COM. CLICK ON NEWS, THEN CLICK ON I-TEAM.
Click here to read Whole Food's entire list of their organic foods origins.
Click here to read the Quality Assurance International statement to ABC 7's I-Team.
Click here to read the Energy and Commerce Leaders Release for New Food & Drug Import Safety Proposal.
Click here to read the Natural Resources Defense Council “Food Miles” document.
FOR MORE INFORMATION YOU CAN VISIT:
USDA Website : www.usda.gov
USDA National Organic Program: Click here to file a complaint.
FDA Import Alerts: www.fda.gov
Committee on Energy and Commerce Report on Safety of Food from China: energycommerce.house.gov
FDA and USDA Food Recalls: www.recalls.gov
Center for Science in the Public Interest on environmentally friendly diets: www.cspinet.org
Natural Resources Defense Council “Green Living”: www.nrdc.org