In the “Organic” category, the product and ingredients must be certified as organic, except when specified in the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. If the product is certified as 100 percent organic, the label may include the USDA organic seal, which can be downloaded from the USDA site. In addition, all organic ingredients must be marked with an asterisk on the information panel. The USDA National Organic Program regulates labeling requirements for organic agricultural products.
Organic labels can be found on agricultural products, dairy products, meat, processed foods, condiments and beverages. Food products labeled “organic” must contain at least 95% organic ingredients without synthetic growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, biotechnology, synthetic ingredients, or irradiation used in production or processing. Products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients and that are produced without synthetic methods carry the label “made with organic ingredients”, although they cannot use the USDA organic seal on their packaging. Other animals, such as chicken and pork, can be raised on pastures (and USDA organic standards require at least some access to pasture), but currently there are no specific certification standards for non-ruminant, grass-fed or pastured animals.
This label indicates that the food was grown to the same standards as organic food, but not on a farm that was actually certified by the USDA National Organic Program. Some farmers have criticized the cost and the process they must follow to participate in the USDA organic program, which is why it is an alternative, non-governmental certification system in which other farmers act as inspectors in a program run by a non-profit organization called Certified Naturally Grown. This label means that the farmer has decided not to inject their cows with any artificial growth hormone, such as rBGH, a genetically modified growth hormone. The USDA requirements for products labeled with the term organic are independent of the laws enforced by the FDA.
While many products have “all-natural” labels or packaging, there is no universal standard or definition for this statement.
Organic foodlabels are also evaluated under special regulations before they can carry the USDA organic seal. Like 100 percent organic products, these labels can also use the USDA organic seal and must mark organic ingredients with an asterisk. This blog will explain when you can use the term “organic”, your placement options, and if it's appropriate to use the USDA organic seal.
This page provides an overview of the key requirements and the various categories of labeling allowed under USDA organic regulations. If you are a farmer or food manufacturer, it's important that you understand these organic labeling requirements so that you can label your product correctly. However, you must meet NOP's production and labeling requirements to label products as organic at any level. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets some clear standards for products that can use the term “organic”.
If you use the seal or a declaration, you must identify the organic ingredients with an asterisk or other mark on your ingredient statement. If a product contains less than 70 percent organic ingredients, you can't make any claims on the label about its organic status. If your product contains less than 70 percent organic ingredients, you can still include organic ingredients in your ingredient statement. .