We have all seen the USDA label on certain foods- but what assurances does this certification offer. Basically, foods are produced without antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, irradiation or bioengineering. In addition organic farmers are required to adhere to certain soil and water conservation methods and to rules about the humane treatment of animals.
If a food bears a USDA Organic label, it means it’s produced and processed according to the USDA standards and that at least 95 percent of the food’s ingredients are organically produced. Also, the farmer and processor must have annual certification inspections and detailed records must be kept of practices.
Products that are completely organic — such as fruits, vegetables, eggs or other single-ingredient foods — are labeled 100 percent organic and can carry a small USDA seal.
Foods that have more than one ingredient, such as breakfast cereal or snacks for example, can use the USDA organic seal or the following wording on their package labels, depending on the number of organic ingredients:
- 100 percent organic. Products that are completely organic or made of all organic ingredients. This usually applies to fruits, veggies or single-ingredient foods
- Organic. Products that are at least 95 percent organic. This applies to foods with multiple ingredients
- Made with organic ingredients. These are products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients. The organic seal can’t be used on these packages.
Remember, all ingredients listed on a product are listed in order from greatest quantity to lesser quantity. You may have seen many products that do not list the first item as organic, but the second and maybe the rest of the ingredients are organic. These products also are not able to use the USDA seal as they have a smaller percentage of organic ingredients.
The USDA Organic Certification lets the public know that we are serious about offering a product that is not only healthy for them, but also protects the environment from unnecessary pollutants-a win-win for everyone.