How can you ensure that something labeled organic is really organic?

Use of the term is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture. In order to put the word “organic” on a food label, the grower or producer must get the product certified as organic by a USDA-accredited certifier. Those who knowingly label or sell non-organic products as “organic” can be fined up to $11,000 for each violation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established an organic certification program that requires all organic foods to meet strict government standards. These standards regulate how such foods are grown, handled and processed. Any product labeled as organic must be USDA certified. Only producers who sell less than $5,000 a year in organic foods are exempt from this certification; however, they’re still required to follow the USDA’s standards for organic foods. If a food bears a USDA Organic label, it means it’s produced and processed according to the USDA standards. The seal is voluntary, but many organic producers use it. Products certified 95 percent or more organic display this USDA seal. Products that are completely organic — such as fruits, vegetables, eggs or other single-ingredient foods — are labeled 100 percent organic and can carry the USDA seal.

 

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