How to “Seal” the Deal

Before a product can be labeled organic, a government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to ensure compliance with USDA’s organic standards. But not all organics are created equal. Here’s what the different certifications mean:

• “100 percent organic” products must be made with only all organic ingredients.

• “Organic” labeled foods must consist of at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients, and may bear the USDA organic seal.

• “Made with organic ingredients” may use this phrase if a product contains at least 70 percent organic ingredients, and it may contain up to three of the organic ingredients on the display panel. For example, soup made with 70 percent organic ingredients may be labeled “soup made with organic tomatoes, corn and potatoes” or “soup made with organic ingredients.”

• Processed products that contain less than 70 percent organic ingredients cannot use the term organic on the main display panel, but may list organic ingredients in the ingredients list.

• Non-organic foods may display truthful claims such as “natural”, “free-range,” “hormone-free” or “sustainably harvested,” but only foods labeled organic meet USDA’s organic certification standards.