Organic and natural food products. Did you know there is a process for the certification and labeling these?
In 1990, the United States legislature passed the Organic Foods Production Act. It standardized the use of terms such as “organic” and “natural.” This act established a US National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The regulations were promoted by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) together with the NOSB. So today there are a set of standards that guide the entire industry.
Organic and Natural Products
There are several levels of labeling for organic foods.
- 100% Organic contains 100% organically produced products
- Organic has 95% organically grown products
- Made With Organic Ingredients are 70% organically produced
A USDA seal of Certificate of Organic Ingredients can only be used for products that contain 70% of more of organically produced contents.
Watch out for products marketed and advertised as organic but do not meet the USDA standards and proof of certification. It does not necessarily mean the product is defective or poor. But it might not meet the standards that you are looking for.
Natural products – meat, poultry and eggs – are minimally processed and have no artificial ingredients, according to the USDA.
But that label only applies to the processing, not to the farm practices. There are no regulations for foods that do not contain meat, poultry or eggs. In short, marketing has free reins when using the Natural label for non-meat or egg foods.
What Does This Mean to You?
As a consumer, not only is it critical to read the labels but also to understand them. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, knowing and trusting who you buy your food from is important.
I LOVE farmers’ markets! I shop them as much as I possibly can, year around. Supporting those growing my food and buying local is important to me. But I know that there are vendors who are not as they represent themselves. Ask questions, avoid those you don’t trust. And when you shop at a grocery story, try to buy as local as possible preferably from a company you know.
“Let the buyer beware” applies to food products as much as it does to manufactured.
Has this article helped you to better understand food labels? What other topics would you like me to cover? You can leave your comments in the section below. Or you can email me by using the form on the side. I look forward to hearing from you.