Sunday, November 17, 2002

Organic, nonorganic separated

By Linda Ashton
The Associated Press

SEATTLE - Finding organic grapes or poultry has gotten easier in grocery stores across the country - a very intentional byproduct of a new federal requirement that retailers keep organic and nonorganic foods separate.

Many grocers have reorganized parts of their stores, creating barriers and posting new signs to ensure that food represented as organic isn't contaminated with nonorganic compounds.

"The nonorganic honey-crisp apples can't touch the organic red grapefruit," said Dan Johnson, produce coordinator at Seattle's PCC Greenlake store.

The National Organic Program rules, which took effect Oct. 21, prohibit genetic engineering, irradiation and sewage sludge in certified organic production and handling. In general, all synthetic substances are prohibited, along with petroleum-based fertilizers. Animals must be fed organic feed, have access to the outdoors and receive no antibiotics or growth hormones.

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Organic, nonorganic separated