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Buzzing the Buzzwords

December 12, 1985

John Tagg's recent article, " 'Natural,' 'Organic' : Some Buzzwords for Pure Food," (Nov. 22) was a reasoned discussion of the presence in food of naturally occurring materials with a potential for toxicity. "Natural" may well be a buzzword with no clear meaning anymore.

"Organic," however, does have a meaning, at least in California and a few other states. The California Food, Drug and Cosmetic Law restricts its use in labeling or advertising, in brief, to raw or processed agricultural commodities grown and processed without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or growth regulators. For annual or perennial crops, these materials should not have been used for 12 months prior to flowering or seeding. Animal products labeled organic should also be produced without the use of chemicals or drugs to stimulate growth or tenderness and without antibiotics (except for treatment of specific disease). Use of the word natural is specifically excluded from this restriction.

With food as with most everything else, moderation and prudence are called for. Any dose of some things, such as tobacco, might just as well be avoided completely. The potential natural poisons in food can be kept to non-toxic levels by eating a varied and judicious diet. Some man-made potential poisons can be avoided by emphasizing "organic" foods.

BURTON KALLMAN, Ph.D.

Standards Coordinator,

National Nutritional Foods Assn.

Costa Mesa

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