Wal-Mart removes mislabeled organic products from shelves

Bio Block at Walmart may not be organic as claimedWal-Mart has begun removing an "organic" insecticide from its shelves after allegations that the insecticide isn't what it claims to be. The product, Bio Block, was labeled and sold as an organic pest controller, but a complaint by an advocacy group challenged the product labeling -- asserting the product did not meet National Organic Program standards.

The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based organic public-interest group, filed the complaint with Wal-Mart alleging a possible violation of National Organic Program standards. Affixing a USDA Organic label on this product signifies that it meets standards including that any agricultural product, whether raw or processed, is safe for human or livestock consumption.

The United States Department of Agriculture can levy a civil penalty of up to $11,000 on anyone who knowingly sells or labels a non-organic product as an organic product.

Bio Block carries the official USDA Organic seal but is not organic, according to the institute. The product is made by HOMS, LLC which asserts it is made with conventional food-grade ingredients, but does not list the name of the organic-certifying agent on the package.

"There is something illegal about putting an organic label on a product if none of the ingredients are organic," Cornucopia Institute co-founder Mark Kastel told Consumer Ally. "We have grave concerns about whether Wal-Mart is conforming to the values that consumers think they're investing in when they buy food."

In 2007, Kastel's organization discovered milk products in Wal-Mart that were mislabeled. "The first time they did this they attacked us in the media," Kastel said. "For a small public charity, we wore the badge of honor."

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Caren Epstein told Consumer Ally in an e-mail that the company has reacted to the complaint.
"If it hasn't been already, the product is slated to be removed from the stores that carry it," she said.
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