Saturday, July 23, 2011

Required Labeling for Organic Foods

Susan Brannon
23 July 2011

If we want to stay away from GMO food products and ban GMO food brands, it is a good idea to understand the requirements for the labeling of organic foods.  Legalities, food, food safety and labeling can be confusing.  Some items on the shelf can give the impression that a product is organic, but it is not.  The label can say, "All Natural"  and the word natural does not mean organic.  The same goes for cosmetics and shampoos.  A person must take their time while shopping and learn the marketing strategies that the companies use to sell their products.  Read the ingredients.

Someone once told me, if you can't pronounce it, then don't buy it!  As of this day, I use this as a rule of thumb.  (Thank God for iphones, now I can look up an ingredient on the spot!)
The labeling of organic foods is very costly for the companies and I have noticed that many chains now stay away from the legal requirement of labeling, and instead say that "blaugh blaugh blaugh stands by this product as organic" Again, we become at the mercy of trusting the company that produces the products that we put into our bodies.

  • A truly certified organic product must first have the USDA organic seal.
  • It should wear the label "100% organic"
To acquire the label  the following standards must be met:
  • Organic meats must come from animals who have not been given hormones or antibiotics.
  • Organic foods cannot be grown or produced with the use of conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, bioengineering, or radiation.
  • Organic eggs, poultry, cheeses and other dairy products must come from animals given no hormones or antibiotics and must be produced without pesticides.
  • Produced by farmers and/or companies that practice, or highly emphasize, renewable resources and water and soil conservation.
  • A government-approved certifier visits where the food is being processed or grown to ensure that all standards are being met before a food item can be labeled "organic." 
The company that uses the USDA Organic label can be fined  up to $11,000 per violation.

There are two things to keep in mind:
  • Food companies and farms selling under $5,000 a year worth of food items are not allowed to use the organic label because they're exempt.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture places no restrictions on other labeling claims such as free-range, sustainable harvest, or no growth hormones.
Related articles:

 For more reading go to the USDA Organic website

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