Gluten-free foods maker Pamela's Products, Ukiah, CA, is running its sixth annual “Gluten-Free Recipe Contest” from June 1–August 15, 2011. The theme of this year’s contest is “easy and delicious food,” and contestants will create recipes using any of the gluten-free brand’s products.
The Coca-Cola Company has completed its acquisition, begun three years ago, of organic bottled tea company Honest Tea, Bethesda, MD, by exercising its option to purchase the company’s remaining assets. Honest Tea will continue to be based in Bethesda.
In an agreement with the Davis Beverage Group, Bai Brands, Princeton, NJ, announced it will expand the distribution of its natural antioxidant beverages in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Bai Brands beverages include antioxidants derived from the coffeefruit.
Earth Balance, Cresskill, NJ, a division of Smart Balance Inc., is expanding its product line with new plant-based products, including organic soymilk, organic coconut spread and MindfulMayo, a line of refrigerated mayonnaise.
The Organic Trade Association (OTA), Washington, D.C., recently honored first-term Senator Sherrod Brown (D–OH), with its 2011 Public Servant Award. The association’s highest award for a public servant, it was presented during OTA’s 2011 Policy Conference and Hill Visit Days held in Washington, D.C. OTA said Senator Brown’s support helped the organic industry toward its legislative successes in 2010, including his sponsorship of the Organic Pilot Program and advocacy of organic interests during the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
In other OTA news, the association signed an agreement with California Certified Organic Farmers Inc. (CCOF) to form a strategic alliance with the goal of strengthening the organic industry. Both groups hope the collaboration will enhance the resources available to its members, as well as bolster the effectiveness of the organic sector’s public policy campaigns.
Meanwhile, larger shifts have occurred in the organic certification landscape. The USDA National Organic Program(NOP) has stripped accreditation from two organic certifying agencies. Certified Organic, Inc. (COI) and Guaranteed Organic Certification Agency (GOCA), no longer authorized to certify farmers and manufacturers as organic.
Offenses from COI leading to this action by NOP included failure to communicate with or properly train inspectors, to document the effective dates of specific organic certifications and to provide clients with cost estimates and inspection fees among other complaints. For GOCA, less than thorough reviews of materials submitted by their certified operations; communication problems with applicants and failures to require that clients use defined boundaries and border zones as required by the organic standard, as well as other offenses, were cited.
Those outfits formerly certified by these two organizations have either come under the purview of other certifiers, or have surrendered their organic certification.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, May 2011 (online 3/21/11)