Ben & Jerry’s is to launch a 100% certified organic ice cream line in 2018, the Unilever-owned has announced. The new organic range is expected to account for around 6% of total sales in the US.
The announcement comes soon after the company found itself defending its products after laboratory tests commissioned by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) found detectable levels of the pesticide glyphosate in a number of its products.
In July, the OCA released that the tests (carried out by the Health Research Institute) OCA) showed that 10 of 11 samples of Ben & Jerry ice cream “tested positive” for glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, and/or AMPA, glyphosate’s main metabolite.
Piling pressure on the iconic ice cream brand the OCA called for the company to “begin an immediate transition to using only organic ingredients, including milk, in its products or face a national and international consumer boycott”.
The groups also called on natural and organic food stores to drop the Ben & Jerry’s brand unless the company commits to transitioning to organic.
But Ben & Jerry’s insisted that the “trace levels” of glyphosate found in several of its products are “significantly below all allowable US and European standards”.
“Glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides and is everywhere – from mainstream food, to natural and organic food, and even rainwater”
The company said that that the presence of glyphosate in some of its products was “a disappointment but not a surprise”. A spokesperson told The Guardian: “Glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides in agriculture and is everywhere – from mainstream food, to natural and organic food, and even rainwater – and that’s the issue.”
In a statement on its website, the company said the levels of the glyphosate (the chemical in Monsanto’s Roundup Ready herbicide) present in its product – in the range of 0-1.74 parts per billion – were “significantly below all allowable European and American standards”. The statement added: To put (these levels) in context, recent studies found organic whole wheat bread tested 78 times higher and a popular whole grain oat breakfast cereal results were 646 times higher“.