Organic Labeling of Food
Food labeling in general is very chaotic and unreliable which can make a trip to the grocery store very frustrating and complicated. You may not be aware, but the FDA accepts no responsibility of ensuring that food in a package and the promises on the package are in fact truthful and accurate. It is a well-known fact that a package can say Blueberry Muffins without a single, real blueberry in it. A package can be called “quinoa pasta” when more than half of the ingredients in the package are actually corn. And a product can be marked organic, but you may be surprised to find out that may mean that only some of the ingredients in the product are organic.
When it comes to organic, the ONLY good assurance of organic food quality is found in the USDA Organic seal. This circular, green and white seal is the most reliable organic true certification and it requires the strictest standards of any organic label. Any farm, wild crop harvesting or handling operation that wants to sell an agricultural product as organically produced and bear the USDA Organic symbol must meet the standards set by the USDA’s National Organic Program. These standards apply to raw, fresh products as well as processed products that contain organic agricultural ingredients.
So what does a product have to be to qualify for the USDA Organic seal?
- A product must be grown and processed using organic farming methods, which recycle resources and promote biodiversity.
- Crops must be grown without the use of bioengineered (genetically modified) genes, synthetic pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers or sewage sludge-based fertilizers.
- Products cannot be irradiated, or contain preservatives or flavor enhancing chemicals.
- Products cannot contain traces of heavy metals or other contaminants in excess of tolerances set by the FDA.
- Livestock must have access to the outdoors and not be given antibiotics or growth hormones.
Be aware that many foods that are labeled “organic” and do not bear the USDA Organic symbol have been produced in large factory farms which have not adhered to the strict standards required by the National Organic Program.