Monday, February 13, 2012

Organic Labeling of Food

During a recent discussion of friends, I realized most people still don't know what the organic labeling on packaged human and animal food means. Folks are still being deceived by intentionally deceptive advertising on products but the biggest problem is that they need to know what the organic labels mean.  It seems folks are buying partial organic products when they think it is all organic. This happens a lot with both human and animal food. I thought it would be good to review it here.

There are 3 basic categories indicating levels of organic certification

• 100% Organic
• Organic
• Made with Organic (specified ingredients or food groups)

What each of the categories stipulate

100% organic  - means exactly that
Organic - indicates that 95% or more of the ingredients are organic. Read the label to find out what is not organic in the product.
Made with Organic - indicates there are some organic ingredients in the product and by law it must be no less than 70%. Read the label to  see what is and is not organic.

Products certified 95 percent or more organic can display the USDA sticker. 

Generally organic foods can not contain sulfites. However a wine may say “made with organic grapes”, and still contain sulfites, although it must contain less than 100 ppm of combined natural and added sulfites. So read the labeling carefully. If it says 100% organic, it can only contain naturally occurring sulfites and must be 10ppm or less.  Conventional wines are allowed to contain up to 350 ppm sulfites.

Some non-organic ingredients are allowed in organic products
Now there are certain times when an organic ingredient may be substituted for an organic one as the organic one is not available on the market. There is also a long list of ingredients that are not organic but allowed to be in an organic product as you simply can't get them organic. I am going to give you this link to go to so you can see the official list. This is on a long page of other organic rulings.  Look for  Number § 205.605 Nonagricultural (nonorganic) substances allowed as ingredients in or on processed products labeled as “organic” or “made with organic (specified ingredients or food group(s)).”  This is close to the bottom of the page and easy to find with the number 205.605.

Amending the National List
Anyone can make a request to amend the organic substance list. Here is how you do it.
(a) Any person may petition the National Organic Standard Board for the purpose of having a substance evaluated by the Board for recommendation to the Secretary for inclusion on or deletion from the National List in accordance with the Act.

(b) A person petitioning for amendment of the National List should request a copy of the petition procedures from the USDA at the address: Program Manager, USDA/AMS/TMP/NOP, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Room 4008-So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 20250.

(c) A petition to amend the National List must be submitted to: the same address as above.

The Term Natural
One last thing, needs to be mentioned just because it irks me. If any of you think the word "natural" means something wholesome or good, IT DOES NOT. This is just a deceptive way to make folks think their food is better than it really is. There is no legal definition for it.  Since there is no legal definition for it, you could even sell synthetic items under this term as some might consider them to be natural also. I can bag up some goat turds from my barn and sell them as natural. It might be hard to get away with selling them as a food item, but they would be natural! So next time you see the word natural on a product just remember goat turds are natural too.

How to Get Really Good Food
1) Grow it yourself
2) Get it from a friend who grows - trade them something
3) Get it from a local grower that you know or that has good standing in the community

Local Growers Can Be Found 
• at their own farms where some sell direct to the public
• farmers markets
• some stores sell local, organic produce - shop at them

Some past garden blogs

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