Kellogg Garden Products

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WARNING! Sewage sludge is toxic. Food should not be grown in "biosolids." Join the Food Rights Network.

Kellogg Garden Products produces and sells garden products that say "organic" or "compost" on bags containing material from Los Angeles and Inland Empire sewage sludge from the Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority.[1] Founded by H. Clay Kellogg in 1925, Kellogg Garden Products has sold sludge-based products since its founding, beginning with the product Nitrohumus.[2]

Kathy Kellogg Johnson is on the corporate advisory board of Hollywood's Environmental Media Association, and has donated Kellogg sewage sludge-based Amend and Gromulch to EMA without identifying it as sewage sludge-based products. Since the start of its school garden program in 2009, EMA has been unknowingly putting Kellogg sewage sludge on its organic urban and school yard gardens. The Food Rights Network informed EMA of this in a March 30, 2011 letter and is awaiting a formal reply from EMA.

Kellogg Garden Products works closely with other manufacturers and promoters of sewage sludge products including US Composting Council, Mulch and Soil Council, BioCycle magazine and others.

The Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities notes, "Kellogg Supply is a private company which purchases composted biosolids (sewage sludge) from the sanitary district of Los Angeles, California. The company manufactures a variety of lawn and garden soil conditioner and fertilizer products from this compost. The products, which include Nitrohumus, Gromulch, Amend and Topper, are bagged and sold to homeowners and landscapers through retail centers in California and other states. About 70% of Kelloggs total annual sales are of composted biosolids products. This represents about 250,000 cubic yards per year." (emphasis added) [3]

Kellogg sells both sewage sludge products such as Amend made from Los Angeles sewage, and OMRI certified products that, unlike sludge, can be legally used on commercial organic gardens. However, the Kellogg marketing campaigns conflate the products and confuse the public. For instance, no where on a bag of Amend does it give any indication that it is made from sewage sludge; the sludge is hidden as "compost" in the ingredients.

Background and History of Kellogg

Chief Sustainability Officer Kathy Kellogg Johnson "taught the composting and marketing segments of U.C.L.A.’s Certificate course on Solid Waste Management. She has served as Chairperson of the Environmental Committees for California Association of Nurserymen and California Landscape Contractors Association and is currently VP of the Board for the Association of Compost Producers (ACP)." [4]

In its long history, Kellogg has marketed and sold products for World War II era Victory Gardens, professional baseball fields, the Getty Museum, and Disneyland. Today, Kellogg still offers Nitrohumus, as well as other sludge products Gromulch, Amend, and Topper. According to one source, 70 percent of Kellogg's sales are in sewage sludge products.[5]

Kellogg Sells Unlabeled Sewage Sludge Products

The Truth about Kellogg "Organics" Amend

As noted above, Kellogg sells several products (Nitrohumus, Topper, Amend, and Gromulch) that contain composted sewage sludge obtained from the Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority (IERCA).[6]

(IERCA) is a sewage sludge treatment plant in Rancho Cucagmonga, California. It was created and is operated by the Inland Empire Utilities Agency and the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County.[7] The IERCA treats sewage sludge from municipal waste treatment plants in San Bernardino County in California. It is the "nation's largest indoor composting facility," according to the IERCA website. The IERCA creates and markets SoilPro "biosolids compost," which is treated sewage sludge, and markets it to retail stores, backyard gardeners and other consumers. For example, SoilPro is sold to southern California gardeners in Kellogg Garden Products like Amend, Topper, Gromulch, and Nitrohumus.

According to a marketing case study of Kellogg sludge products:[8]

"Over the years, Kellogg has been a credible brand for selling products with biosolids as a main ingredient. Kellogg’s sanitation district partners had the wisdom to let Kellogg experiment with mixing other ingredients with the biosolids, which improved the compost and the composting process. This improvement resulted in more effective soil amendment products. These products were sold through specific markets and for specific applications, including top dressing lawns or products specifically designed for planting trees or shrubs. Biosolids became a valuable ingredient in Kellogg’s plan to help the customer create a beautiful landscape or garden.
"Kellogg’s brand and success stem from multiple marketing activities including building strong sales channels, being known for on-time delivery, educating customers in the stores, training store employees, and other resources that provide information about the nature and health of soil. Company officials are credible soil health experts as demonstrated by their focus on quality, education programs, and the fact that they have specialized product lines. These sales and marketing skills and Kellogg’s brand loyalty are valuable assets to Kellogg and its sanitation district partners."

Southern CA Sewage Sludge Compost Market "Dominated by Kellogg Garden Products"

In July, 2004, the "Facilities Plan Volume 1: Wastewater Management" was published by the City of Los Angeles, Department of Public Works, Bureau of Sanitation and Department of Water and Power.[9] In examining the use of sewage sludge products sold on store shelves, it states:

"Thirty-six facilities produce over 1.6 million tons per year of compost products throughout southern California. These companies take in over 2.5 million tons per year of raw material that is processed into these products.
"In the southern California marketplace, four suppliers dominate sales at the retail level. Kellogg Garden Products, Scott’s Hyponex, Western Organics, and Whitney Farms control the majority of shelf space... The products are sold in displays featuring the products as topsoil or soil amendments. A total of eleven compost product manufacturers and suppliers are known to be operating in the local retail marketplace. Several of these manufacturers supply products to K-Mart, Target, and Wal-Mart for their own in-house promotion and brand. Of these manufacturers, three firms, Kellogg Garden Products, Western Organics, and Scott’s Hyponex, utilize biosolids in their product formulations.
"The biosolids portion of the Southern California marketplace appears to be dominated by Kellogg Garden Products. (emphasis added) Of the eight different products produced by Kellogg, seven contained composted biosolids. ... A significant portion of the biosolids used by Kellogg and Scott’s Hyponex is obtained from the Inland Empire Utility Agency’s existing compost manufacturing facility. The relative quantities of biosolids-based compost moving through the distribution chain of these two companies remains proprietary information."

Pollutants Found in Kellogg Nitrohumus, High Dioxin in Kellogg Amend

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission performed analytical testing at Synagro Central Valley to determine the priority pollutant contaminants found in commercially available soil fertilizers. It found that:

"The frequency of detection of any of the 126 priority pollutants in commercial samples ranged from a low of 8 contaminants found ((Kellogg's) Gardeners Steer Manure & Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Garden Soil) up to a high 19 present in one product (Kellogg Nitrohumus)." SFPUC also found high levels of arsenic and lead in Kellogg fertilizers. Testing also showed high levels of Dioxin in Kellogg Amend, 65.97 parts per trillion. [10] The complete results of the testing are available here.

Industry Discharge Included in Kellogg Sludge Products

Within the Inland Empire Utilities Agency, many industries discharge wastewater into the Non-Reclaimable Wastewater System (NRWS) which "provides the disposal mean for discharges of high-salt-content industrial wastewater. This wastewater is not suitable to be treated at the Agency’s treatment plants. The NRWS transports non-reclaimable, salt-laden, industrial strength wastewater out of the Agency’s service area, to other treatment facilities in Los Angeles and Orange counties, and eventual discharge to the Pacific Ocean."[11] Los Angeles treats the wastewater from these industries and removes the solids, which are then treated at the Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority and included in Kellogg's sludge compost products.[12] The industries that discharge into this system include:[13]

  • Air Liquide Corp.
  • American Technical Molding (dba Accellent)
  • C.C. Graber Company, also known as Graber Olive
  • California Institution for Men
  • California Institution for Women
  • California Steel Industries
  • Carlisle Tire and Wheel
  • Chemicals, Inc.
  • Chino Basin Desalter Authority
  • Chino Development Corp.
  • Cintas Corp.
  • City of Chino (Ion Exchange Plant)
  • City of Chino Hills (Fairfield Ranch Well No. 5)
  • City of Upland (Ion Exchange Plant)
  • Clement Pappas & Co., Inc.
  • Coca-Cola
  • Crothall Healthcare, Inc.
  • Culligan Water Conditioning
  • Danco Metal Surfacing
  • E&M Ranch, A Norco Ranch Facility
  • Frito-Lay, Inc.
  • GE Mobile Water
  • Green River Golf Club
  • Hillerich and Bradsby Company, Inc.
  • ICL Performance Products, Inc.
  • Industrial Wire Products Arrow Division, Inc.
  • James Hardie Building Products
  • Kaiser Foundation Hospitals
  • Ludford’s Inc.
  • Matheson Gas Products
  • Metal Coaters of California, Inc.
  • Mission Uniform and Linen Service
  • Mizkan Americas, Inc.
  • MVWD/City of Chino (Ion Exchange Plant)
  • Nestlé Waters North America, Inc.
  • Niagara Bottling LLC
  • OLS Energy
  • Pacific Forge, Inc.
  • Praxair, Inc./Hydrogen Plant
  • RMS Services, Inc.
  • Rainforest Café
  • RRI Energy (formerly Reliant Energy Etiwanda, L.L.C.)
  • San Antonio Community Hospital
  • Shawcor Pipe Protection LLC
  • Sierra Aluminum Company
  • Steelscape, Inc.
  • Sunkist Grower, Inc.
  • Temple-Inland
  • Unifirst
  • Union Pacific Railroad Company
  • Unitech Services Group, Inc.
  • Ventura Foods, LLC
  • Vista Metals Corp.

Kellogg Brand Used to Build Acceptance of Sewage Sludge

According to the Utility Branding Network for Water and Waste Water Agencies:[14]

"The Kellogg Garden Products brand has been selling products with biosolids as an ingredient in Southern California for 75 years. However the brand still is at risk due to campaigns against biosolids from competitors and activists.
"What has helped Kellogg is its brand, which conveys its commitment to healthy soil and plants --reminding us again that it is the brand that creates the trust.
"For the most part, wastewater agencies have not viewed either markets, or brands such as Kellogg's, as assets. In fact, the market for a product, and the brands that deliver the product, are tremendous assets that need to be protected, nurtured, and invested in.
"Historically, contracting relationships between wastewater and sanitation agencies and their private-sector partners have not adequately addressed investment in market expansion and brand development.
"The Association of Compost Producers in Southern California has recognized this branding problem. The Association is a coalition of wastewater agencies, solid waste agencies, and private companies that have embraced the "We Build Healthy Soil" brand. The Association is working diligently to build acceptance, markets, and brands for compost that uses biosolids as an ingredient."

OMRI Certified Kellogg Products for Organic Gardens

The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) describes itself as "a national nonprofit organization that determines which input products are allowed for use in organic production and processing. OMRI Listed -- or approved -- products may be used on operations that are certified organic under the USDA National Organic Program. ... Mainly, however, the organization generates income through fees collected for the review of products intended for use in organic production or processing."[15] According to OMRI, they have certified 20 Kellogg Garden products for use in organic agriculture. [16]

Involvement with the Environmental Media Association

Beginning in 2009, the Environmental Media Association launched a school garden program in partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Kathy Kellogg Johnson of Kellogg Garden Products, a member of EMA's Corporate Board, pledged donations of soil, fertilizer, and compost to each garden. However, several of the Kellogg products donated contained sewage sludge, which was identified on package labels only as "compost."

In October 2011, in the week leading up to EMA's 21st annual Environmental Media Awards ceremony, the Center for Media and Democracy's Food Rights Network sent letters to the principals and PTA presidents of the thirteen schools whose "organic" gardens were sludged, notifying them of the contamination and urging remediation.[17]

Correspondence from the EMA "Organic" School Garden Controversy

School Garden Program Background

On May 12, 2009 the Environmental Media Association (EMA) announced that it had "launched an ongoing partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District to "support organic gardens and greenery in urban schools across Los Angeles." The program would begin at 10 schools and then expand to 25 schools within LAUSD, providing funding as well as "celebrity mentoring." EMA said, "This partnership is the beginning of an ambitious plan to sponsor and support garden programs in various school districts throughout the country."[18]

Members of EMA's Young Hollywood Board, such as Amy Smart, Olivia Wilde, Rosario Dawson, and Lance Bass, pledged to participate in the program as mentors, helping the children plant and tend the gardens and speaking to the children about healthy eating.[19]

Participating schools include:

  • 186th Street School,Gardena, CA; Brooklyn Early Education Center, Los Angeles, CA; Calvert Street Elementary School, Woodland Hills, CA; Carson Senior High School, Carson, CA; Carthay Center Elementary School, Los Angeles, CA; Eliot Middle School, Altadena, CA; Helen Bernstein High School, Los Angeles, CA; Marvin Avenue Elementary School, Los Angeles, CA; Nueva Esperanza Charter School, San Fernando, CA; Saturn Street Elementary School, Los Angeles, CA; University High School, Los Angeles, CA; Venice Senior High School, Los Angeles, CA; and Westminster Avenue Elementary School, Venice, CA.[20]

Kellogg Sewage Sludge on EMA's Organic School Gardens

EMA Corporate Board member Kathy Kellogg Johnson of Kellogg Garden Products donated Kellogg brand soil, fertilizer, and compost to each of EMA's school gardens.[21] The top video on this page shows Rosario Dawson working in an EMA garden, and shows behind her, mostly blocked from view but clearly identifiable, a bag of Amend, a Kellogg product made with sewage sludge (identified only as "compost" on the bag's label).

Venice Planting.jpg

Additionally, the Summer 2010 EMA Online Newsletter has a photo (shown to the left of this paragraph) of a bag of Amend and Kathy Kellogg Johnson at an EMA celebrity garden event. The article reads:[22]

"EMA, along with our Young Hollywood Board, celebrated the successful first year of our school garden program with an organic luncheon at the amazing Learning Garden located at Venice High School. What is now an annual event, our first school gardens luncheon was enjoyed by students and teachers from each of our initially adopted 9 schools and EMA Young Hollywood Board Members Amy Smart (board chair), Emmanuelle Chriqui, Rosario Dawson, Ali Larter, Rachelle Lefevre, and Carter Oosterhouse. We were also honored to have Executive Board members Frances Fisher, Daryl Hannah, Rachel Kropa and Wendie Malick join us for the event. Working with partner sponsors Yes to Carrots and Kellogg Garden Products, EMA has supported organic gardens in Los Angeles with monetary grants, product donations and celebrity mentors to spotlight the need for organic gardens in urban schools. The Learning Garden is a model example of how school gardens can transform the lives of students and teachers and the environment of their community. At this special luncheon 80 guests enjoyed a delicious meal catered by our friends at the Border Grill Truck. Chef Mary Sue Milliken incorporated fresh organic vegetables and herbs from our partner schools. As our guests enjoyed their meal, EMA President Debbie Levin and EMA Young Hollywood Board chair Amy Smart emceed a short program that focused on the importance of healthy foods in our schools. The day closed with the announcement of the winning school for a $5,000 grant from Yes to Carrots to support an organic school garden. Over 400 schools entered the contest and the winner was Highland Elementary School in Minnesota! As we move into fall 2010, the EMA Young Hollywood Board will be mentoring 16 gardens! We look forward to adding more gardens each year and helping to assist, motivate and encourage this important direction in education and nutrition for children of all ages." [23]

Last, the Westminster Avenue Elementary School shows a picture (to the left) of their school garden, with a bag of Kellogg's Amend in the shot.[24]

Gardeners Thank Kellogg Garden Products

EMA's Spring, 2010 newsletter reports that Kellogg Garden Products company has "donated soil, fertilizer, and amendment to each of our ten adopted schools, impacting the gardens in the most positive of ways. ... One master gardener, overjoyed with the donation, said, "This means so much and is so very appreciated... totally amazing! Your support of our garden program says a whole lot about Kellogg." At another campus, the Kellogg's donation allowed the school to plant a bed solely dedicated to vegetables. And aptly put by the Westminster Elementary school garden manager, this 'donation from Kellogg Garden Products... it's garden gold!' "[25]

Kellogg Garden Products in EMA Newsletter

Kathy Kellogg Johnson, Chief Sustainability Officer of Kellogg Garden Products and EMA Corporate Board member, wrote a piece in EMA's Winter 2009/2010 Newsletter called "It's A Wonderful Life – for Compost and Mulch and Kellogg."[26] In it, she wrote about the environmental impact of Kellogg using sewage sludge in its compost products, saying:

"It occurred to me that in the 85 years that Kellogg has been rescuing organic materials from being burned or dumped. Our composting them, and transforming them for fertilizing farms and gardens, it has created a pretty Wonderful Life for the planet!
"What would the planet be like if no one had thought to recover and compost leaves and twigs and manures? Well there would have been a significantly larger Carbon Footprint, for one."

Contact Information for Kellogg Garden Products

  • Website: Kellogg Garden
  • Kellogg Garden Products
    • 350 W. Sepulveda Boulevard
    • Carson , CA 90745
  • Phone: 909-673-8021
    • Phone Toll Free: 800-232-2322
    • Fax: 909-930-6199
  • Kathryn Kellogg Johnson, Chief Sustainability Officer, email: KathyJohnson AT
  • Hap Kellogg, email: hapkellogg AT

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch articles

External articles

External resources

  • Kellogg Garden Products - CASE STUDY III, Utility Branding Network for Water and Waste Water Agencies, 2008.
    • "In 1925, H. Clay Kellogg discovered that the solid waste from wastewater treatment processes was great for amending the soil and growing more robust and healthy plants. He developed and began selling his “Nitrohumus” fertilizer to farmers. Kellogg Garden Products has been selling [sewage sludge]-based fertilizers that enhance landscapes and gardens ever since."
  • Building the Wastewater Utility Brand: Practical Advice for Increasing Trust, Support, and Investment, Southern California Alliance of Publically Owned Treatment Works (SCAP), 2008.
    • Over the years, Kellogg has been a credible brand for selling products with [sewage sludge] as a main ingredient. Kellogg’s sanitation district partner had the wisdom to let Kellogg experiment with mixing other ingredients with the [sewage sludge], which improved the compost and the composting process. ... [Sewage sludge] became a valuable ingredient in Kellogg’s plan to help the customer create a beautiful landscape or garden. ... These sales and marketing skills and Kellogg’s brand loyalty are valuable assets to Kellogg and its sanitation district partners. Through the contracting relationships with Kellogg, sanitation districts have helped to invest and build these important marketing assets. However, most sanitation districts are not yet clear on their role as investors in markets and brands."
  • Markets for blends and bags of compost, BioCycle Magazine, August 2003. Accessed March 29, 2011, via LexisNexis.
    • "There are five bagged soil amendments with composted biosolids for sale under the label Kellogg Garden Products. Amend is a blend with composted rice hulls that increase drainage and soil oxygen. Gromulch is a blend of humus, composted fir bark and selected wood fibers that add organic matter to soil and improve its pH, texture, aeration and drainage. It can be used to amend soils for shrubs, trees, roses, bare-root, ground cover and turf. Concentrated Nitrohumus is a composted blend of biosolids, wood fibers and organic materials that supports all types of landscape plants. It is designed specifically for sandy soils to increase its ability to hold nutrients, add organic fertility, and improve texture, aeration and drainage. Topper is a composted blend of humus, composted fir bark, and selected wood fibers to be used as a seed cover for all seed plantings. It can also be rotary tilled into soil before laying sod. It speeds up the germination rate of seeds by increasing the moisture and temperature of the seed bed. Patio Plus is a blend of composted chicken manure, bat guano, kelp meal and worm castings for use as an outdoor potting soil that stimulates fast rooting then slowly releases nutrients over several months. Gromulch, Amend and Topper contain composted biosolids that regenerate the nitrogen cycle in soil. Kellogg sells four million bags of these three products per year. They sell a total of 11 million bagged products annually."
  • Group's Appeal Puts Kings County, Calif., Composting Facility on Hold, The Fresno Bee February 26, 2004. Accessed March 29, 2011, via LexisNexis.


  1. The Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority Receives Honors from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers®, Inland Empire Utilities Agency, April 29, 2010.
  2. Kellogg Garden Products: 80 Years of Marketing and Branding, Utility Branding Network for Water and Waste Water Agencies, 2008.
  3. Metroplitan Council of the Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul website, accessed February 1, 2011
  4. Kathy Kellogg Bio from her Website Accessed January, 2011
  5. U.S. Biosolids Scene, Metropolitan Council Environmental Services, Accessed November 11, 2010
  6. The Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority Receives Honors from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers®, Inland Empire Utilities Agency, April 29, 2010.
  7. Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority: About Us IERCA Website Accessed April 11, 2011.
  8. Kellogg Garden Products: 80 Years of Marketing and Branding, Utility Branding Network for Water and Waste Water Agencies, 2008.
  9. LA 2004 Wastewater Plan, Section 9.6.3
  10. SFPUC Biosolids Compost Memo, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, July 27, 2010.
  11. Non-Reclaimable Wastewater, Accessed April 20, 2011.
  12. Phone call with Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, April 21, 2011.
  13. Non-Reclaimable Wastewater System PRETREATMENT PROGRAM ANNUAL REPORT 2008-2009
  14. Organics/Biosolids, Utility Branding Network for Water and Waste Water Agencies, Accessed November 11, 2010.
  15. About OMRI, OMRI Website Accessed 4/19/11.
  16. Kellog Products on OMRI Website Accessed 4/19/11
  17. Lisa Graves, Children Gardening in Sewage Sludge: Los Angeles Schools Alerted,, October 14, 2011
  18. EMA Website on Gardens Program Accessed Feb. 1, 2011
  19. EMA Website on Gardens Program Accessed Feb. 1, 2011
  20. Environmental Media Association, EMA Website List of Schools, organizational site, accessed October 14, 2011
  21. Spring, 2010 newsletter, Accessed February 1, 2011.
  22. Summer 2010 EMA Online Newsletter, Accessed April 20, 2011.
  23. Summer 2010 EMA Online Newsletter, Accessed 4/20/11.
  24. Westminster Avenue Elementary School garden, Accessed April 19, 2011.
  25. EMA newsletter for Spring 2010, accessed Feb. 1, 2011
  26. EMA Winter 2009 Newsletter, Accessed April 20, 2011.