“Organic” and “Non-GMO” have been quite the buzzwords in the food industry for the past year. In fact, numerous companies have jumped onto the bandwagon to give their consumers healthier choices. Some believe that it’s all but a big marketing scam since organic and non-GMO products are a bit costlier than non-organic counterparts. However, a number of studies prove that the price increase is due to the more stringent standards these food companies have to adhere to.
On September 8, 2015, McCormick decided to hop in the booming organic and non-GMO trend. The announcement was made before the peak fall and holiday season where consumers begin to get picky with ingredients.
McCormick began by labeling their vanilla extract as “Non-GMO”—one of their first products to hit retail under the brand overhaul. They’ll definitely add a wider array of herbs and spices to accompany that introduction.
It’s great to note that most of McCormick’s products are commonly non-GMO in the first place, the website informs. The new labeling system is simply part of their “commitment to transparency and educating consumers about the [organic and non-GMO] category.” This announcement to provide more nutritious options to their consumers is, moreover, the “first announcement under the new quality consumer education initiative.”
This is the more thorough press release, which formally states their intentions for the brand this year:
“McCormick is making several important changes to its portfolio over the next 12 months. The company announced that 80% of its Gourmet herbs & spices business in the U.S. will be Organic and Non-GMO by 2016. Additionally over 70% of all McCormick branded herbs, spices and extracts in the U.S. will be labeled Non-GMO. Most of McCormick’s herbs & spices are currently Non-GMO. The company will begin to label Non-GMO products to help consumers at the point of sale as part of its commitment to transparency and educating consumers about the category. This move is the first announcement under McCormick’s new quality consumer education initiative. Non-GMO Vanilla extract will be the first to hit store shelves and has already begun shipping.”
Lawrence Kurzius, McCormick’s President and Chief Operating Officer, adds that this change was also brought about by listening to their consumer feedback.
Moreover, it’s great to note that McCormick doesn’t use irradiation, a process which reportedly makes spices safer for consumers. Instead, McCormick relies on steam treatments to help preserve the health benefits of their spices. There’s a small drawback with regards to preserving the spices’ overall flavor, but that’s a small price to pay. Irradiation, while approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and extends shelf life, strips the food of about 5%-80% of their vitamins. According to OrganicConsumers.org, while there are no studies yet on the long-term effects of irradiated food diets on humans, including children and babies, irradiated food-fed animals “have shown increased tumors, reproductive failures and kidney damage.” This could be mainly due to vitamin deficiencies.
Natural Society, on the other hand, enlightens McCormick consumers that the brand would be verifying the organic and non-GMO quality of their food through the company itself, rather than through better known transparent means via the Non-GMO Project, although they have considered it.
A lot of food companies use and abuse the word “organic” as it attracts new consumers, and what’s more, these consumers are willing to spend more if they plan to keep their nutritional needs in check. While “organic,” in a more scientific approach refers to any living organism, marketing a product with that label means that no chemical insecticides have been used, as well as hormones for animals. It also pays to be more discerning with labels, are there are different levels of how organic your food really is.
Still, those who find comfort in the terms organic and non-GMO still have cause to celebrate—they would just have to run to the nearest supermarket and find the organic herbs and spices they need, as McCormick, indeed, has had widespread distribution in the U.S., as well as the rest of the world, throughout the years.
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