Traditional yogurt, made from organic milk and rich in calcium, protein, beneficial fats, nutrients and probiotics, is one of nature's notable tasty health foods. Conventional yogurt on the other hand, produced with CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) cow milk, high doses of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, sweeteners and preservatives, and carrageenan
, is less healthy but more widely sold by corporations like General Mills (Yoplait), Groupe Danone (Dannon), PepsiCo and Wal-Mart.
Many of these conventional yogurt brands display a "Live and Active Cultures" seal, supposedly noting the presence of healthy probiotics. However, testing by The Cornucopia Institute revealed that many organic yogurt brands, which do not carry that seal, "actually contained higher levels of probiotics than conventional yogurt with the seal."
Furthermore, many conventional yogurt brands shouldn't even be called "yogurt," according to the FDA's "standard of identity," which does not include the addition of artificial sweeteners, preservatives or nutrients other than vitamins A and D.
While the legality of these "yogurt" products is in question, a more important issue is what their health impacts may be. The Cornucopia Institute wrote that "research has linked the artificial sweetener aspartame to brain tumors and neurological disease in laboratory animals. Carrageenan, a food thickener, has been shown to promote colon tumors and cause inflammation and digestive disease in laboratory animals. Artificial colors have been linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children. These ingredients and others commonly found in yogurt have no place in a food marketed as healthy."
Consumers should beware marketing scams by the food industry claiming their products as "healthy." Instead, be sure to look for the USDA Organic seal on yogurt and other foods to help avoid unsafe chemicals and improve health.