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Let’s talk formula.
The good, the bad and all the ugly.
I’m extremely pro breast-feeding! I’ve breastfed 3 babies (currently breastfeeding my 7 month old and plan to until she self weans). If you can breastfeed, I completely and wholeheartedly recommend it for so many reasons…but that’s for another post.
Today I want to discuss formula, mostly organic formula.
We had a little scare recently with our little girl. She wasn’t gaining enough weight despite the fact that she consumed enough breast milk. I went through all the emotions that come with this type of news and in my fit of panic I did major formula research in case it came down to that.
Remember ladies and gentlemen, fed is best!
My research has led me to many conclusions. During this post I’m going to discuss the most popular organic formula brands and why all formulas are not created equal. This way you can all see which organic formulas are made from the best ingredients and make a decision on which one is right for your baby.
Hopefully this helps out parents that are struggling with breastfeeding and leads to some healthier choices in terms of baby formula.
Here is what my amateur detective work has uncovered.
~ All formula is not the same.
~ American formula is leagues behind European formula.
~ Even the best organic brands have some issues.
The latest news, in terms of organic formula, is the current lawsuit against The Honest Company. Specifically, it is for their popular brand of organic baby formula. Here is a link to the actual lawsuit paperwork if you want to read through it.
Long story short, they are being sued by the Organic Consumers Association because 11 ingredients in their organic formula are not truly organic. I’ll break down what those ingredients are in just a moment.
First I’d like to clarify that none of these 11 ingredients are unique to just The Honest Company. This is just one very well known brand that was easy to target. These ingredients are widely found in ALL American formulas and some in European formulas! So please be aware of that when you do your own research. It is not just one or two companies that are dropping the ball.
For this article I chose to compare the most popular American organic formulas, as well as two popular European organic formulas, to the ingredients found in The Honest Company lawsuit. So overall I’ll be comparing these brands.
American Organic Formula Brands
~ The Honest Company (purchase here)
~ Earth’s Best (purchase here)
~ Baby’s Only (purchase here)
~ Similac Organic (purchase here)
~ Parents Choice (purchase here)
~ Plum Organics (purchase here)
~ Vermont Organics (purchase here)
European Organic Formula Brands
Please bear in mind that I’m doing my best to decipher the list of ingredients on these formulas. American labels compared to British labels are quite different in terms of how they label certain ingredients.
So let’s look at the ingredients that the Organic Consumers Association is suing the Honest Company over. In their exact words “of the 40 ingredients in the “Organic” Infant Formula, more than a quarter (11) are synthetic substances that are not allowed in organic products…Some of these ingredients are federally regulated as hazardous compounds. At least one of these ingredients is irradiated. Finally, some have not even been assessed as safe for human foods – much less for infant formulas.”
I color coded them so they are easier to find in each list of ingredients.
A hazardous substance. It has been shown to have negative effects on the respiratory, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and metabolic systems, negatively impacts the liver, and has negative broad systemic effects.
Can negatively impact the brain and nervous system, metabolism, and cardiovascular system.
A chemical preservative.
Prepared from isobutyraldehyde which is a synthetic flavoring substance and toxic chemicals.
A synthetic variation of Choline. Not permitted in organic foods.
An irradiated substance that is not allowed in organic products.
A pigment found in plants. It is a source of Vitamin A but the NOSB specifically rejected applications to permit it in products.
A synthetic substance produced from Fumaric Acid. It is not permitted in milk-based, organic, infant formulas.
A synthetically produced substance that is not permitted in organic food.
A synthetically produced substance prohibited from milk-based, organic, infant formulas.
A synthetic product prohibited in organic products. This is also another name for synthetically made vitamin K.
The descriptions above are drastically shortened compared to the descriptions given in the lawsuit itself. If you want to read more about each substance please click on this link to the lawsuit where it goes over each ingredient in more detail.
Ascorbyl Palmitate is a fancy name for Vitamin C. From what I understand, the problem here is that it is synthetically made. Some brands list this ingredient as just Vitamin C. This makes it difficult to say whether or not they are all synthetically made or not. Use your own judgement on this one. For this article I will count ingredients labeled “Vitamin C” as part of the 11 ingredients.
Calcium Pantothenate is also listed under the name Pantothenic acid.
Cholecalciferol is another name for Vitamin d3. Some of the brands will have this name instead of the technical term cholecalciferol. Again, the issue with this ingredient is the process from which it is made.
Phytonadione is another name for Vitamin K. Some of the brands will have this name instead of phytonadione. The fact that this is synthetically made is the problem.
If you are really concerned about the differences in names and want to find out if, for example, the Vitamin C is synthetic or organic, please give the companies a call and ask to speak to their customer service. I’m sure they would be more than happy to elaborate on the subject.
Now let’s compare the American brands of organic infant formula, to the items listed above.
Organic Nonfat Milk, Organic Lactose, Organic Glucose Syrup Solids, Organic Palm Oil Or Palm Olein, Organic Soy Oil, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic High Oleic (Safflower or Sunflower) Oil, Organic Whey Protein Concentrate, Less Than 1%: Organic Soy Lecithin, Taurine, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Mixed Tocopherol Concentrate, Calcium Hydroxide, Calcium Phosphate, Cupric Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Magnesium Phosphate, Manganese Sulfate, Potassium Bicarbonate, Potassium Chloride, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Selenite, Zinc Sulfate, Ascorbic Acid, Beta-Carotene, Biotin, Calcium Pantothenate, Choline Bitartrate, Cyanocobalamin, Folic Acid, Inositol, Niacinamide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol), Vitamin E (Dl-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate), Vitamin K (Phytonadione). Contains Milk and Soy Ingredients
Organic Lactose, Organic Nonfat Milk, Organic Glucose Syrup Solids, Oranic Palm Oil Or Palm Olein, Organic Whey Protein Concentrate, Organic Soy Oil, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic High Oleic (Safflower Or Sunflower) Oil, And Less Than 1%: Mortierella Alpina Oil*, Crypthecodinium Cohni Oil**, Vitamin A Palmitate, Beta-Carotene, Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol), Vitamin E (Dl-Alphpa Tocopheryl Acetate), Mixed Tocopherol Concentrate, Vitamin K (Phytonadione), Ascorbyl Palmitate, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Cyanocobalamin, Niacinamide, Folic Acid, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotine, Ascorbic Acid, Choline Chloride, Inositol, Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Chloride, Calcium Hydroxide, Ferrous Solfate, Since Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Cupric Sulfate, Magnesium Phosphate, Potassium Bicarbonate, Potassium Chloride, Potassium Iodide, Potassium Hydroxide, Potassium Phosphate, Sodium Selenite, Sodium Citrate, Taurine, Organic Soy Lecithin, Nucleotides (Cytidine-5’-Monophosphate, Adenosine-5’-Monophosphate, Disodium Uridine-5’-Monophosphate, Disodium Guanosine-5’-Monophosphate, Disodium Inosine-5’monophosphate).
Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Nonfat Milk, Organic High Oleic Sunflower and/or Organic High Oleic Safflower Oil, Organic Soybean Oil, Organic Coconut Oil, Egg Lecithin (Source of DHA & ARA), Organic Vanilla, Calcium Phosphate, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Ascorbate (Vit. C), Organic Soy Lecithin, Calcium Citrate, Choline Bitartrate, Taurine, Ferrous Sulfate, Inositol, d-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate (Vit. E), Natural Mixed Tocopherols, Zinc Sulfate, Niacinamide, Vitamin A Palmitate, Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamin Hydrochloride (Vit. B1), Copper Sulfate, Riboflavin (Vit. B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vit. B6), Folic Acid, Phylloquinone (Vit. K1), Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenate, Biotin, Vitamin D3, Cyanocobalamin (Vit. B12).
Organic Nonfat Milk, Organic Maltodextrin, Organic Sugar, Organic High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Organic Soy Oil, Organic Coconut Oil. Less than 2% of: C. Cohnii Oil, M. Alpina Oil, Beta-Carotene, Lutein, Lycopene, Fructooligosaccharides, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Carbonate, Ascorbic Acid, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Ferrous Sulfate, Salt, Choline Chloride, Choline Bitartrate, Taurine, m-Inositol, Magnesium Chloride, Zinc Sulfate, Mixed Tocopherols, d-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, Niacinamide, Calcium Pantothenate, L-Carnitine, Vitamin A Palmitate, Cupric Sulfate, Thiamine Chloride Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Manganese Sulfate, Phylloquinone, Biotin, Sodium Selenate, Vitamin D3, Cyanocobalamin, Potassium Iodide, Potassium Hydroxide, and Nucleotides (Cytidine 5’-Monophosphate, Disodium Guanosine 5’-Monophosphate, Disodium Uridine 5’-Monophosphate, Adenosine 5’-Monophosphate).
Organic Nonfat Milk, Organic Vegetable Oils; (Palm Or Palm Olein, Soy, Coconut, High Oleic [Safflower Or Sunflower]), Organic Corn Syrup Solids, Organic Maltodextrin, Less Than 1%: Fructooligosaccharides, Lutein, Mortierella Alpina Oil*, Crypthecodiumum Cohnii Oil**, Vitamin A Palmitate, Beta-Carotene, Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol), Vitamin E (Dl-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate), Mixed Tocopherol Concentrate, Vitamin K (Phytonadione), Ascorbyl Palmitate, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Cyanocobalamin, Niacinamide, Folic Acid, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Ascorbic Acid, Choline Chloride, Inositol, Calcium Hydroxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Cupric Sulfate, Magnesium Chloride, Potassium Bicarbonate, Potassium Chloride, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenite, Sodium Citrate, Taurine, Organic Soy Lecithin, Nucleotides (Adenosine-5′-Monophosphate, Cyidine-5′-Monophosphate, Disodium Guanosine-5′-Monophosphate, Disodium Inosine-5′-Monophosphate, Disodium Uridine-5′-Monophosphate).Contains Milk and Soy Ingredients.
Organic Lactose, Organic Nonfat Milk, Organic Palm Oil Or Palm Olein, Organic Soy Oil, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic High Oleic (Safflower Or Sunflower) Oil, Organic Whey Protein Concentrate. Less Than 1%: Organic Soy Lecithin, Crypthecodinium Cohnii Oil** (Docosahexaenoic Acid), Mortierella Alpina Oil* (Arachidonic Acid), Taurine, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Mixed Tocopherol Concentrate. Minerals: Calcium Hydroxide, Alcium Phosphate, Cupric Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Magnesium Chloride, Manganese Sulfate, Potassium Bicarbonate, Potassium Chloride, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Selenite, Zinc Sulfate. Vitamins: Ascorbic Acid, Beta-Carotene, Biotin, Calcium Pantothenate, Choline Bitartrate, Cyanocobalamin, Folic Acid, Inositol, Niacinamide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol), Vitamin E (Dl-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate), Vitamin K (Phytonadione). Contains: Milk And Soy Ingredients.
Organic nonfat milk, organic vegetable oils (palm or palm olein, soy, coconut, high oleic [safflower or sunflower]), organic corn syrup solids, organic maltodextrin, less than 1%: fructooligosaccharides, lutein, mortierella alpina oil*, crypthecodinium cohnii oil**, vitamin A palmitate, beta-carotene, vitamin D (cholecalciferol), vitamin E (dl-alpha tocopheryl acetate), mixed tocopherol concentrate, vitamin K (phytonadione), ascorbyl palmitate, thiamine hydrochloride, riboflavin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, cyanocobalamin, niacinamide, folic acid, calcium pantothenate, biotin, ascorbic acid, choline chloride, inositol, calcium hydroxide, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, manganese sulfate, cupric sulfate, masnesium chloride, potassium bicarbonate, potassium chloride, potassium iodide, sodium selenite, sodium citrate, taurine, organic soy lecithin, nucleotides (adenosine-5’-monophosphate, cytidine-5’-monophosphate, disodium guanosine-5’-monophosphate, disodium inosine-5’-monophosphate, disodium uridine-5’-monophosphate). Contains milk and soy ingredients.
Compared to European Formula Brands.
Organic demineralised whey, organic skimmed milk, water, organic vegetable oil (palm oil, rapeseed oil, sunflower oil), organic lactose, prebiotic fibres (galacto-oligosaccharides from milk), organic whey protein, emulsifier lecithin, calcium carbonate, LCP oil (vegetable oils – sunflower, Mortierella alpina, Crypthecodinium cohnii), calcium orthophosphate, potassium chloride, potassium citrate, sodium citrate, vitamin C, sodium chloride, L-phenylalanine, magnesium oxide, iron lactate, L-tryptophan, zinc oxide, copper sulphate, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin A, vitamin E, thiamin (vitamin B1), vitamin B6, potassium iodate, manganese sulphate, folic acid, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin K, sodium selenate, vitamin D, biotin, vitamin B12. This product is made from organic milk from organically run farms working strictly to high organic standards. No GM ingredients are used.
Skimmed milk** (Germany), whey powder* partly demineralised, vegetable oils* (palm oil*, rapeseed oil*, sunflower oil*), maltodextrin*, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, sodium chloride, vitamin C, vitamin E, ferrous lactate, zinc sulphate, niacin, Calcium-D-pantothenate, copper sulphate, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, manganese sulphate, potassium iodate, folic acid, vitamin K, sodium selenate, vitamin D
*from organic farming
**from biodynamic farming (Demeter quality)
So now that we’ve looked at the ingredients in each brand of organic formula, lets simplify things and recap a little.
The Honest Company
11 out of the 11 synthetic ingredients are found in The Honest Companies organic formula. (DUH you say! I know, that’s where the list of 11 ingredients came from to begin with).
8 out of the 11 synthetic ingredients are found in Earth’s Best organic formula.
9 out of the 11 synthetic ingredients are found in Baby’s Only organic formula. ***Look into Vitamin D3.***
10 out of the 11 synthetic ingredients are found in Similacs organic formula. ***Look into Vitamin D3.***
9 out of the 11 synthetic ingredients are found in Parent’s Choice organic formula.
11 out of the 11 synthetic ingredients are found in Plum Organics formula.
9 out of the 11 synthetic ingredients are found in Vermont Organics formula.
5 out of the 11 synthetic ingredients are found in HiPP organic formula. ***Look into Vitamin C and Vitamin K.***
4 out of the 11 synthetic ingredients are found in Holle organic formula. ***Look into Vitamin C and Vitamin K.***
If you have stuck with me thus far, thank you! I hope this has helped in some way, shape or form.
Based off of the information above and all of the ingredients that are found in each brands organic formula, I would choose to feed my babies…Drum. Roll. Please.
HOLLE ORGANIC FORMULA
Hipp would be a close second. The American brands now make me sad and I probably wouldn’t choose any of them based off of my findings. I guess for the American brands, the lesser of the evils would be Earth’s Best or Baby’s Only.
Where to Purchase HiPP and Holle Formula
Unfortunately Amazon no longer sells either of these brands 😔, but do not fear, it is possible to still purchase them in the US.
Little World Organics and Organic Munchkin are some of the best places to buy HiPP and Holle Formula. These companies are amazing and I highly recommend them. Please make sure to let them know that Kylie at Wobble Bey Bee sent you 🙂
Little World Organics mission is to spread the word about HiPP and Holle Formula and make it available to those who need it in the United States. They strive for a healthy life for not only themselves but mostly for their children. Their dedication to a healthy lifestyle shines through in their company and they are an amazing company to go through to order your HiPP or Holle formula.
Organic Munchkin is an amazing company whose main goal is to provide the healthiest alternative of baby formula. Their purpose is to educate, help and supply these healthy products to others in the United States who may not have other ways of purchasing them. As an added bonus they also sell amazing daily products as well as products other than formula.
I also linked the American formula brands at the beginning of this post, to where you can buy them online, in case you do want to purchase those.
One Final Suggestion
I’m not going to go into this a lot but if you are still skeptical about these brands and want something that you can control a lot more, I suggest homemade baby formula. I promise this is not some random recipe I stumbled upon. The recipes for these homemade formulas are put out by the Weston A. Price Foundation.
If we ever had to start formula full-time I would choose to go this route because I believe it is much healthier and I can see exactly what is going in each batch.
With that being said. If you want to check out how to make organic formula please go to this link. Wellness Mama has written an amazing article on the subject that I could never top even if I tried.
Also, here is the link to the official Weston A. Price Foundation page with all the detailed information and recipes.
I am not a scientist, or a chemist. I do not have vast knowledge of all the specific ingredients listed in all the formulas above. However, I have done a huge amount of research and everything you have read, I have done my absolute best to present in the most accurate way possible.
I highly recommend digging deeper yourselves and researching anything I have missed.
Finally, please be aware that I have only touched bases on the ingredients from the Honest Company lawsuit. There very well could be other things in each formula that I did not talk about. If you have any questions about any of the brands or ingredients, I will do my best to answer them or at the very least, point you in the right direction to find out the answer.
So with all of that being said. I hope this has shed some light on organic formula and what each brand is putting in theirs. I can only imagine what non organic formula contains and that makes me a little sick, not to mention extremely sad. The US needs to get its shit together in this area if you ask me. But anyways…
Thank you all for sticking with me through this extremely long article and good luck in your search for the best formula!