When does “organic” truly mean “organic”?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recently established new standards for organically grown foods to clarify any confusion. The new rules define how and when products and marketing materials may bear the term “organic” or the USDA “Organic” seal.
Organic Packaging Terms
The rules state that:
- Products labeled “100% Organic” must be made entirely of organic materials.
- Products labeled “Organic” or “95% Organic” must consist of at least 95% organically grown ingredients.
- Products that have at least 70% organic ingredients may be marketed as “Made with Organic Ingredients” and may list up to three of those ingredients on the front of the product.
Products containing less that 70% organically grown ingredients may not make statements about the organically grown ingredients on the front of the product. The organic ingredients may only be declared in the list of ingredients.
Additionally, the new rules prohibit the use of irradiated and bio-technically enhanced ingredients in the production of any organic products.
Products allowed to display the new USDA seal must originate from farms and processors that have been certified by a private or public agency accredited by the USDA.
Most consumers believe that organically grown food is safer or more nutritious than conventionally grown foods. Many are willing to pay extra for the perceived benefits.
The USDA has stated that the USDA Organic seal on packages is simply a marketing standard and not a stamp of approval. Still, many believe that the USDA Organic stamp will be perceived as an endorsement or a mark of quality.
Already there is talk that the new seal may have to be redesigned—or abandoned all together—if consumers misinterpret the meaning of the seal.
The Aaron Thomas Company is a certified organic packager through QAI. If you would like to discuss packaging your products, call 800-394-4776.