One of the best known soy milks is the brand Silk, formerly owned by WhiteWave but for some time under the ownership of Dean Foods. Many health-conscious consumers bought Silk because it was labeled "organic." And it was--as much as industrial food can be called organic, anyway--until early this year.
But it seems that months ago, Dean replaced the "organic" label with the word "natural." In the food biz, "natural" has absolutely no meaning whatsoever, because the government has no definition of the term and no standards for labeling a product as such. Dean Foods, however, made sure not to tell anyone of the change, and many consumers--and the retailers who sell Silk--simply didn't notice the change. The UPC code is the same, and the packaging, except for that one little word, is still the same. And, of course, the price is still the same, even though conventional rather than organic soybeans are now used to make the product.
Dean Foods claims that it sent a form letter to distributors describing the change and blamed distributors for "not following through" with independent retailers. According to the Fort Worth Star Telegram, specialty stores have reported not noticing the change for 6 to 9 months.
The failure to change the bar code is, to me, evidence that Dean was intentionally hoping to fool people:
Jon Mellor, a spokesman for New Jersey-based GS1 US, the nonprofit agency that issues Universal Product Code numbers and bar codes, said changing products so they are no longer organic is considered a big enough shift to require new codes.
Supermarket executives and food processors expressed surprise at Dean’s actions, saying that even when a package size is altered, a new bar code is affixed.
It's really hard for me to believe that they didn't want people to keep on automatically grabbing the blue carton and for grocers to remain unaware of the change, since the bar code stayed the same.
Dean has re-introduced an organic soy milk in a green carton, according to the newspaper article. But if it were me--I don't buy soy products--I would be extremely reluctant to buy any product from Dean Foods.