The organic food market has experienced explosive growth in recent years. With consumers increasingly seeking healthier and sustainable food options, organic products have become highly sought after. However, obtaining organic food labeling requires adherence to strict regulations set by various certification bodies. In the United States, the primary authority for organic labeling is the USDA National Organic Program (NOP), but there are additional certifications available from other organizations as desired.
Here are the national organic standards for product labeling.
USDA organic labeling requirements
The USDA’s organic labeling is governed by the National Organic Program (NOP), a division of the agency’s Agricultural Marketing Service. Organic certification by the USDA requires oversight from a NOP-authorized certifying agent. These agents assess the farming and production processes and collect necessary documentation to ensure compliance with organic standards. The regulations apply to both food products and personal care products.
To be USDA certified, products must only contain ingredients listed in the “National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances” and should not involve genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or sewage sludge. Facilities processing both organic and non-organic products must prevent cross-contamination. The use of ionizing radiation, a chemical-free treatment for killing bacteria and prolonging shelf life, is also not allowed under organic regulations.
Ingredient statements for organic labels
It’s important to know what kind of organic labels you’ll need. The USDA organic label regulations categorize products based on the percentage of organic ingredients used:
- 100 percent organic: All ingredients in the product must be certified organic. The USDA organic seal and organic claims are allowed on the Principal Display Panel (PDP), and organic ingredients must be identified on the Information Panel (IP).
- Organic: The product must contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients, with the remaining five percent derived from substances not available in organic form. The USDA organic seal and organic claims are allowed on the PDP, and specific organic ingredients must be identified on the IP.
- Made with organic ingredients: The product must have a minimum of 70 percent organic ingredients, with constraints on the remaining ingredients as specified in the National List. The PDP can state “made with organic” followed by a list of up to five ingredients, but the USDA organic seal cannot be used. Specific organic ingredients must be identified on the IP.
- Organic ingredients used (less than 70 percent organic): The product itself is not considered organic, but organic ingredients can be identified on the IP without using the USDA seal or the word “organic.”
To capitalize on the organic market, companies must adhere to strict food labeling requirements set by the USDA National Organic Program and other certifying agencies. Understanding the different categories of organic labeling and meeting the relevant standards is important. If you’re considering organic certification for your products, be sure to work closely with the appropriate certifying agencies to ensure compliance with their standards.
Once your labels are designed and meet standards, Quadrel can provide versatile, efficient product labeling systems for your needs. Reach out today to find out which of our solutions are right for your products, or to create your own custom labeling system.