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Here are some of the questions we frequently hear from you. Don’t see your question? Just ask us.
We make every effort to ensure that Horizon organic products are free of wheat, wheat gluten, rye, oats, barley and malt. While it is virtually impossible to be certain that each carton is 100% free of all gluten, Horizon organic products are suitable for most people with wheat and gluten allergies. People with severe allergies should consult a doctor before introducing a new food.
Horizon adds five live and active cultures to its yogurt: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Streptococcus thermophilus. These cultures help keep the intestinal tract healthy by deterring the growth of harmful bacteria and encouraging the proliferation of beneficial organisms.
Horizon uses natural carotene and/or natural annatto to produce the orange color of our American and Colby cheeses. Annatto is a vegetable coloring made from the seeds of the annatto tree (also known as achiote). Carotene is found in carrots and other yellow and orange fruits and vegetables. Consumers have become accustomed to white Cheddar cheese; however, Colby and American are still recognized by their traditional orange color.
No. All of our cheeses are 100% vegetarian because we use organic-approved microbial enzymes rather than rennet to help form the curds that turn into cheese.
The organic-approved enzymes we use in our cheeses are not genetically engineered. Microbial enzymes are a substitute for calf rennet and serve the function of curdling the milk during the cheese-making process.
Also known as Docosahexaenoic acid, DHA belongs to a category of healthy fatty acids known as Omega-3's. DHA accounts for at least 93% of the omega fats in the brain and eyes.1 Scientists agree that DHA consumed in the diet can become available to support brain and eye health. DHA has also been shown to help support heart health.2 Horizon uses life's DHA, a 100% vegetarian and sustainable source of DHA. 1Martek Biosciences Corporation. 2 McCann JC and Ames BN. Am J Clin Nutr, Aug 2005; 82: 281-95.
Yes. Most DHA comes from fish oil, which is extracted from fish that eat DHA-rich marine algae. Instead of harvesting fish, we go directly to the fish’s food supply, using marine algae to create algal oil. Algal oil is a highly concentrated, sustainable and 100% vegetarian source of DHA Omega-3.
The DHA Omega-3 is not organic. It is, however, USDA-approved for use as an ingredient in organic food. Horizon uses life’sDHA, a 100% vegetarian and sustainable DHA source.
Horizon organic milk with DHA Omega-3 has the same fresh, creamy and delicious taste all Horizon milk is known for.
Yes. Pasteurization is the process of heating milk to make it safe from harmful bacteria and to increase its longevity. For our half gallon and gallon products, Horizon uses both high-temperature short-time (HTST) pasteurization, and ultra-pasteurization (UP). HTST milk is labeled “pasteurized,” while UP milk is labeled “ultra-pasteurized.” Aside from the fact that UP milk has a longer shelf life, there is no detectable difference between UP and HTST milk; the products taste identical to each other and have the same nutritional value. Our single serve milks are processed using ultra-high temperature (UHT) pasteurization. Also known as “aseptic” or “shelf-stable” processing, this method allows our single serve milk to stay fresh without refrigeration for extended periods of time. Pasteurization practices are standardized and regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Homogenized milk can still be organic. Homogenization is simply the process of breaking up and dispersing milkfat, which results in smooth, drinkable milk with a uniform texture. We homogenize our milk so that the butterfat, or cream, does not rest at the top of the milk. The process allows us to offer a variety of fat levels and does not impact the organic qualities of our milk.
The date on the package is called the sell-by date. Generally, Horizon products will stay fresh for approximately seven days beyond this date, provided they have been refrigerated properly and kept unopened. Products opened before the sell-by date should be refrigerated at all times and should stay fresh for approximately seven days after opening. Horizon’s single serve products are specially processed to stay fresh for extended periods without refrigeration. Once opened, single serves must be refrigerated and can be expected to remain fresh for seven days.
We offer both pasteurized and ultra-pasteurized refrigerated milk. Milk labeled “pasteurized” will usually have a sell-by date of one to two weeks away. Milk labeled “ultra-pasteurized” has a longer shelf life, and will usually display a sell-by date of several weeks away. Aside from the fact that ultra-pasteurized milk has a longer shelf life, there is no detectable difference between pasteurized and ultra-pasteurized milk; the products taste identical to each other and have the same nutritional value. Horizon single serves are specially processed to allow them to stay fresh without refrigeration for many months. However, once opened, these products must be refrigerated and should be consumed within a week.
To preserve freshness, milk should be stored between 33º F and 40º F, which is typical for a household refrigerator. Milk will spoil more rapidly if unrefrigerated for even a short amount of time. Every hour that milk is above 40º F will decrease its life by one day.
Freezing is not recommended for fluid milk, half-and-half or cream. Although freezing is unlikely to alter milk’s nutrition, it will change its consistency. Milk that has been frozen and thawed in the refrigerator can be used in baking and cooking.
Single serve milk is packaged in individual aseptic containers and will keep at room temperature, unopened, up to seven months or until the date code. This extended sh elf life is possible due to ultra-high temperature (UHT) pasteurization. UHT pasteurization and special aseptic packaging keep single serve products fresh and safe without refrigeration. Once opened, th e product must be refrigerated and can be expected to remain fresh up to seven days.
Yes. However, because most people are used to drinking refrigerated milk, Horizon single serves should be chilled and shaken before opening for maximum enjoyment. Besi des being safe and nutritious, single serve containers are portable and convenient. They are ideal for sending in lunchboxes or toting to soccer practice or swimming lessons.
The pull tab was removed to reduce milk leakage around the straw. We received comments from parents about milk leaking around the straw when younger children tipped ca rtons over or held them upside down. With the new design, there is a superior seal around the straw and less opportunity for milk to leak.
We changed the formulation to reduce the fat content and also to reduce the sugar content of the flavored varieties. Horizon single serve milks previously contained 2% milk, and they have been reformulated with 1% milk. With the reformulation, the amount of sugar in the chocolate, strawberry and vanilla single serves has also been reduced. Click here for specific nutritional information about the reformulation. [link to Single Serve comparison table]
We make every effort to use packaging materials that are safe, responsibly sourced and recyclable. Our half-gallon and quart milk cartons are constructed from recyclable opaque paperboard. The state-of-the-art, chlorine-free process used to whiten the paperboard results in no harmful residues, including dioxins. Our milk cartons do not contain harmful chemicals such as chlorine, and they are printed using food-safe water-based inks. Our shelf-stable single serves are made with Tetra-Pak aseptic technology that allows milk to be stored at room temperature for up to seven months or until the date code. Once opened, they must be refrigerated. These packages are also made of recyclable paperboard. Gallon containers are made of recyclable #2 HDPE plastic. Their opaque white color serves as a barrier to the ultraviolet rays of store lights, protecting the milk’s freshness and nutritional value.
Our half gallon cartons, gallon jugs and aseptic single serve containers are all recyclable. The availability of recycling facilities to process these packages varies from one community to another. Please visit our packaging partner, TetraPak, to learn more about recycling facilities in your area. [http://www.tetrapak.com/us/environment/recycle/pages/recycling.aspx] If our packages are not being recycled in your community, we urge you to encourage and work with your local recycling center to expand their efforts.
Look for the words “certified organic” or the USDA organic seal on the product's packaging. The USDA organic seal assures consumers of the quality and integrity of org anic products. Certified organic operations must have an organic system plan and records verifying compliance with that plan. These operations are subject to an annual inspection and spot checks to ensu re they continue to meet strict standards.
Since October 21, 2002, all organic food must be certified to a single, unified national standard by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA organ ic seal assures consumers of the quality and integrity of organic products. Organic-certified operations must have an organic system plan and records verifying compliance with that plan. These operation s are subject to an annual inspection and spot checks to ensure they continue to meet strict standards.
A label stating “100% Organic” means that 100% of the ingredients and other substances, such as processing aids, are 100% certified organic. Most often these are fresh fruits and vegetables or products with very few ingredients. “Organic” means that 95-100% of the ingredients are organic. All Horizon products are labeled this way. Only food items that meet the criteria above can use the USDA organic seal. Foods labeled “Made with Organic Ingredients” contain 70-94% organic ingredients and cannot use the USDA organic seal.
Horizon proudly displays the USDA organic seal on all our packaging. As is standard for milk, Horizon organic milk has vitamin D added in order to aid calcium absorpti on. As required by the United States Food and Drug Administration (USDA), our reduced fat, lowfat and fat-free varieties also have vitamin A added. Both of these vitamins are added in small amounts and are USDA-approved as ingredients in organic food. However, because these vitamins are not available in an organic form, our milk is labeled “Organic” rather than “100% Organic.”
Yes, we work with approximately 40 certified organic processing and handling operations to manufacture and package our products. Each one is audited at least annually during an onsite organic inspection conducted by USDA-accredited certifying agent representatives or independent inspectors. Additionally, they regularly review site-specific organic certifications, pol icies and procedures.
Horizon organic milk comes from over 600 certified organic family farms in 21 states. Our family farmer partners supply 93% of our milk. Horizon also owns and operates two of our own organic farms, that supply 7% of our milk. Learn more about Our Farms. [links to Our Farms.
The farms that provide our milk come in all shapes and sizes from every region of the country. But they all share the belief that organic milk makes sense for healthy families and a healthy planet. The average herd size of a Horizon partner farm is 90 cows. Learn more about Our Farms.
Each farm is required to demonstrate compliance with a site-specific organic system plan and National Organic Program standards. This is done via onsite monitoring, annual organic inspections by USDA-accredited certifying agent representatives or independent inspectors, and routine visits from Horizon field personnel. The same is true for our company-owned farms in Idaho and Maryland.
All organic farms must be certified by an independent, third-party certifier to ensure stringent USDA organic standards are met. Organic certification includes annual inspections and spot checks. Our farmer partners may choose from USDA accredited certifiers. Quality Assurance International (QAI) certifies Horizon’s two company-owned farms. To learn more, visit Our Farms. [link to Our Farms area]
We raise our own organic calves from birth on our company-owned farms, as do our family farmer partners.
All Horizon cows graze on certified organic pasture. When they are not on pasture, they are fed only organic, vegetarian feed that has been produced without the use of genetically modified grains or the use of toxic and persistent herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers.
In compliance with USDA Organic Regulations, all Horizon cows must graze on pasture for at least four months of the year. The grazing season varies depending on geographic region. Cows are required to have year-round access to the outdoors, shade, shelter, exercise areas and direct sunlight. Fresh air and exercise are considered vital to a cow’s health even in the non-pasture season. Every farmer is responsible for creating and adhering to a pasture management plan that must be updated annually.
The use of antibiotics is strictly prohibited in organic dairy animals, including calves, at all stages of life. The first and best defense against illness is preventi on. But when a calf or cow does become ill, we rely on natural and alternative methods as our preferred treatment. If a sick animal cannot be restored to full health with organic-approved treatments, we may administer antibiotics or other prescribed synthetic medicines to return a calf or cow to good health. However, when antibiotics or other prohibited materials are administered, the animal is no lon ger considered organic and is permanently removed from the herd. We always consider the well-being of our animals first and never allow an animal to suffer. The use of added growth hormones rBST and rBGH is strictly prohibited on Horizon farms. The use of these substances is not allowed in any organic dairy.
The first and best defense against illness is prevention. Quality pasture, high-forage diets, low-stress birthing, regular veterinary checkups, freedom of movement and clean living conditions all contribute to preventive health care. When a calf or cow does become ill, we rely on natural and alternative methods as our preferred treatment. The use of antibiotics is st rictly prohibited. If a sick animal cannot be restored to full health with organic-approved treatments, we may administer antibiotics or other prescribed synthetic medicines. However, when antibiotics o r other prohibited materials are administered, the animal is no longer considered organic and is permanently removed from the herd. We always consider the well-being of our animals first and never allow an animal to suffer.
No, cloned animals cannot be considered organic under National Organic Program regulations. Horizon does not allow cloned animals on its partner or company-owned farms .
Horizon is a brand within WhiteWave Foods, a leader in corporate citizenship. WhiteWave is dedicated to manufacturing innovative, authentic and nutritious branded food products through socially and environmentally responsible practices. WhiteWave Foods is a subsidiary of Dean Foods Company.
The company got its start in Boulder, Colorado, in 1991. Our headquarters are now located just a few miles from Boulder in Broomfield, Colorado. Our family farm partners, who supply 93% of Horizon’s milk, are in 21 states around the country. Our company-owned farms are in Idaho and Maryland.
The Organic Cow, a well-known and respected organic milk brand in the Northeast, was acquired by Horizon in 1999. Since that time, Horizon and The Organic Cow have shared the same milk supply. Horizon made a business decision in late 2010 to consolidate these brands, and will gradually transition The Organic Cow packaging to the Horizon brand during 2011. Although packaging will change, the milk inside – and the farms that supply it – will remain exactly the same.
No, the milk is not affected at all. Horizon and The Organic Cow already share the same organic milk supply, so this packaging change does not affect the product. The same farms will continue to supply the milk.
Absolutely – Horizon works with a network of nearly 600 organic family farms across the country, including more than 100 in New England.
No, The Organic Cow coupons may not be used for Horizon milk at this time. However, starting in late summer 2011, The Organic Cow coupons may be exchanged for Horizon coupons by calling Consumer Response at 888.494.3020.