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Extension > Food > Food Safety > Preserving and Preparing > Safe Meals >Organic Food Labeling

Preparing Safe Meals

Organic Food Labeling

By Melissa Schwinghammer, University of Minnesota Extension intern, summer 2008

Reviewed 2013

Today, when we walk into the grocery store or search the local farmers market directory, we encounter labels that say “organic,” “100% organic,” “certified organic,” “made with organic ingredients,” “natural,"” or “all natural.” Here's what those labels mean. Listen to the audio version.

100% organic: This means that no synthetic ingredients are allowed by law. Organic food label claims made in the United States must now be backed by valid certification according to the National Organic Program Rule.

Organic: This means that at least 95% of the ingredients are organically produced.

Made with organic ingredients: A label claiming to be made with organic ingredients means that at least 70% of its ingredients are organic. The other 30% are from a list approved by the USDA.

Natural: A product labeled natural means that some of its ingredients don't contain any synthetic ingredients. However, these claims are not regulated.

All natural: is used to inform the consumer that all ingredients are natural, or, that they don't contain any synthetics.

Certified organic: This means that a farmer follows national organic program rules for raising crops or livestock. These rules include: no use of artificial pesticides, fertilizers, hormones, or antibiotics. Certification by independent third party ensures the plants or animals are grown, harvested, transported, and processed in ways that follow organic rules. Periodic unannounced inspections are also conducted.

Reviewed by Suzanne Driessen, Extension Educator — Food Safety 2012. Sources: University of Minnesota and University of California-Davis.

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