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A New Mom's Guide to: The Organic Food Label

Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled "organic," a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.

Products labeled "100 percent organic" must contain only organically produced ingredients. Products labeled "organic" must consist of at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients. Products meeting the requirements for "100 percent organic" and "organic" may display the USDA Organic seal.

Processed products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients can use the phrase "made with organic ingredients" and list up to three of the organic ingredients or food groups on the principal display panel. For example, soup made with at least 70 percent organic ingredients and only organic vegetables may be labeled either "made with organic peas, potatoes, and carrots," or "made with organic vegetables." The USDA seal cannot be used anywhere on the package.

Processed products that contain less than 70 percent organic ingredients cannot use the term “organic” other than to identify the specific ingredients that are organically produced in the ingredients statement.

Links to explore:

National Agricultural Library  (NAL) - Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC) - Website focused on all types of sustainable and organic agriculture information resources.

Organic Material Review Institute (OMRI) - OMRI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization created to benefit the organic community and the general public. OMRI also conducts scientific research and education on the use of materials by the organic industry.


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