What Do the Various Organic Labels Mean?


The USDA organic certification program requires organic foods to meet strict standards which regulate how organic foods are grown, handled, and processed. The U.S. government is, therefore, responsible for what a claim of organic may be. Most  farmers and food manufacturers that label a product “organic” must be certified by a third party auditor that is approved by the USDA. Only producers selling less than $5,000 worth of organic food a year do not have to be certified, but they are still required to follow the government’s standards in order to label their foods as organic. Here’s what the labels mean:


100% organic: These products are completely organic or made of all organic ingredients.


Organic: These products are at least 95% organic.


Made with organic ingredients: The ingredients must be at least 70% organic or be items allowed for use in organic products that appear on a supplemental list.


If a food contains less than 70% organic ingredients, it can’t have the seal or the word “organic” on  its label.  However, the organic items in it must be in the ingredients list, and they can be  identified as organic.


Although all organic foods are natural, do not assume that every product labeled “natural” is organic. The term “natural”  simply means that the food has been minimally processed and, explains the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), is free of the following: “synthetic preservatives; artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors, and other additives; growth hormones;  antibiotics; hydrogenated oils; and  stabilizers and emulsifiers.” Natural meat and poultry must be processed in a way  that doesn’t alter the raw product beyond  traditional minimal processing. Thus, cured meats are allowed. 



Mayoclinic.com  “Organic foods: Are  they safer?  More Nutritious?”


fmi.org “Natural and Organic Foods”



fmi.org “Natural and Organic Foods”


Related FAQs:

What Is Organic Food?


What Important Contributions Has the Organic Movement Made? 


Which Are Safer: Organic or Conventional Food Products?

Is Organic Food More Nutritious Than Conventional Food?


Does Organic Food Taste Better than Conventional Food?


Is Food Organically Grown Food Better for the Environment?


Are Organic Methods More Humane to Animals?


Does Conventional Food Have a Longer Shelf Life Than Organic?


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