Organic Food Labels
Knowledge is power when it comes to organic farming versus conventional farming. Learn more about the organic farming process here, then check out what organic labels really mean below:
Organic Food Labeling Programs
Farms certified under the USDA’s National Organic Program classify their food as one of four labels:
- 100 Percent Organic: This means all ingredients and any processing aids must be certified organic by USDA, and the product label must state the name or logo of the certifying agent.
- Organic: This indicates a product contains at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients. Each individual product that is organic must be labeled as such in the ingredients section.
- Made with Organic: This means that a multi-ingredient product contains at least 70 percent certified organic ingredients. The product must display “Made with Organic,” the name of the certifying agent and specify which ingredients are organic in the ingredients section.
- <70 Percent Organic: This means that a multi-ingredient product contains fewer than 70 percent organically certified ingredients. The product will specify which ingredients are organic on the ingredients list. However, it will not display the USDA seal or certifying agent information.
Livestock products such as meat and eggs are able to use other voluntary labels such as cage-free and grass-fed. To avoid confusion, here’s how the USDA defines those terms:
- Free-range: Indicates that a poultry flock was provided shelter in a building, room or area with unlimited access to food, fresh water and continuous access to the outdoors during the production cycle. The outdoor area may or may not be fenced.
- Cage-free: The poultry flock was able to freely roam a building, room or enclosed area with unlimited access to food and fresh water during the production cycle.
- Natural: Meat, poultry and eggs labeled as natural must be minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients. However, this label does not include any standards regarding farm practices and only applies to the processing of meat and egg products.
- Grass-fed: These animals receive the majority of their nutrients from grass throughout their life, while organic animals’ pasture diet may be supplemented with grain. This label does not limit the use of antibiotics, hormones or pesticides, and meat products may be labeled as grass-fed organic.
- No added hormones: You may also see “raised without hormones.” Federal regulations have never permitted steroids or hormones in poultry or pork.
- Certified Naturally Grown: A nonprofit offering certification tailored for farmers using natural methods that employs a peer-inspection process.