organic food labelingOrganic Food Products - Just what does it mean when a food products are labeled organic? The U.S. Department of Agriculture lastly issued a brand new nationwide seal designed to bring readability and assurance to customers that meals bearing the seal are certified natural following USDA requirements which were 10 years in the making.

Beginning Oct. 21, only food products certified as at the very least ninety five percent natural - that's, produced without most pesticides, toxic fertilizers, progress hormones and antibiotics - might be allowed to carry the official "USDA natural" seal.

One caveat: The new guidelines apply only to food produced on or after Oct. 21, so it might be several months before the seal turns into commonplace in grocery aisles, notably on packaged foods the place the turnover is slower.

The new USDA nationwide standards exchange what had been a mishmash of certification methods run by particular person states and personal groups. The USDA seal will ensure consumers are literally buying a product that is really natural relatively than a creatively worded package deal that advertises itself as natural when just a few elements actually are.

Below the new rules, organic food products will likely be labeled as belonging to considered one of 4 classes:

USDA Organic LabelOrganic food products that's 100% organic could carry the new "USDA organic" label and say "100% organic." Food that is at the very least ninety five % organic may carry the brand new seal. Foods that is at the very least 70 p.c natural will record the natural ingredients on the entrance of the package. If a product is less than 70 p.c organic, the natural ingredients could also be listed on the side of the package but cannot say "organic" on the front.

The nationwide organic program guidelines prohibit the use of typical pesticides, petroleum- or sewage-sludge-primarily based fertilizers, bioengineering or ionizing radiation and artificial substances. Foods licensed as organic should be produced utilizing growing strategies that reduce soil erosion and that preserve or improve the fertility of the soil. Natural farms need to prove that these materials haven't been used for at least three years. Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals which can be given no antibiotics or progress hormones, have to be fed natural feed and have entry to the outdoors. Earlier than a product could be labeled "organic," an inspector visits the farm the place the meals is produced to ensure the farm meets USDA standards.

Search for the word "organic" and a small sticker version of the USDA natural seal on greens or pieces of fruit or on the signal above the natural produce display. The word "natural" and the seal may also seem on packages of meat, cartons of milk or eggs, cheese and different single-ingredient foods. Use of the seal is voluntary.

The federal government's stamp of approval is an important step toward mainstream acceptance for the rapidly growing industry. Organic food sales within the U.S. are rising by about 20 percent a yr and are anticipated to surpass $11 billion in 2002 and $20 billion in 2005.

The brand new USDA's national criteria for labeling are aimed at enabling customers to make an educated choice among the meals they buy and in addition embrace the safeguard of fines for misrepresentation. New federal legal guidelines for organic certification assess penalties of as much as $10,000 for each violation of selling or labeling products "natural" when they aren't or when organic food product is contaminated with non-organic compounds. This means that the natural grapes can.t be contaminated by the non-natural apples. Separate tubs and wash water are used to trim and clean produce and if there is an natural display in a spot where non-organics have been, it is required that the nonskid mats get replaced and the area cleaned with a light, bleach solution.

For extra detailed data on the USDA organic standards, go to, call the National Organic Program at 202-720-3252, or write USDA-AMS-TM-NOP, Room 4008 S. Constructing, Ag Stop 0268, 1400 and Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250.

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