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Glyphosate-Free Certification Debuts—and Brands Jump on Board

The Detox Project's fledgling certification program tests raw ingredients and finished products for glyphosate residue.

In addition to ski areas, leaf peeping-perfect trails and maple syrup tastings (we hope that’s a thing), one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vermont is the Ben & Jerry’s factory tour in the picturesque town of Waterbury. Operating seven days per week and 362 days per year, the factory's 30-minute tour is a rite of passage in New England; thanks to free ice cream samples at the conclusion of the tour, it's popular with elementary school field trips and summer camp excursions.

On the tour, Ben & Jerry’s does a great job of telling the story of its brand—a story that commenced in the '70s with a mission to churn the best ice cream possible and to cultivate a better future through conscious environmental and social business practices. For example, in 2010 the company made a commitment to source Fair Trade ingredients, and more recently, Ben & Jerry’s spearheaded an initiative called Caring Dairy, a “program for evaluating, implementing and continuously improving sustainable agricultural practices on their farms,” according to the ice cream maker’s website. The tour highlights Ben & Jerry’s commitment to doing the right thing, which has earned it lifelong customers.

So to many it came as a shock when the Organic Consumer’s Association recently found traces of glyphosate, the herbicide used in Roundup, in some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors. The news did not bode well for Ben & Jerry’s, as the story was picked up by media outlets across the country, doing damage to an otherwise sterling responsible brand. Even The New York Times covered the story, writing that while glyphosate was found in extremely small, possibly negligible amounts, “this may be only the beginning for consumer brands, which will face increasing scrutiny over glyphosate.” Ben & Jerry’s responded to the research with a well-written blog post, but the finding still lingers in the consumer psyche.