By MARY CLARE JALONICK
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Agriculture Department says it may ban two synthetic additives from organic baby formula, overturning a Bush administration decision to allow them.
The USDA said Tuesday that the department incorrectly interpreted Food and Drug Administration guidelines that appeared to allow the additives, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids also known as DHA and ARA, respectively, to be added to formula.
A Wisconsin organic advocacy group had filed a complaint about the additives because they are extracted using a chemical that is banned in organic production. The USDA is not saying they are unsafe.
Many companies have added DHA and ARA to their infant formulas in recent years, saying they improve brain development and eyesight in babies.
The department's move to overturn the Bush-era decision is part of an Obama administration effort to scrutinize the National Organic Program. Critics have charged that the government has not been restrictive enough in what it allows to be labeled as organic.
Oversight of organics have become more important as the industry has exploded in popularity over the last decade, growing 14 to 21 percent annually with sales of $24.6 billion in 2008.
Copyright 2010 The AP.