USDA Organic Certification

USDA OrganicOrganic labeling and certification for agricultural and other products is still relatively new in regards to state and national government regulatory bodies. California was one of the first U.S. states to incorporate an ‘organic law’ into its official statutes with the passing of the California Certified Organic Farm Certification Act in 1973. Other states soon followed suit, and as a result, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) created the National Organic Production Act in 1990, resulting in the government body known as the National Organic Program (NOP). The NOP, through a network of national organic certification agents, regulations and policies has created a national standard for certified organic products: USDA Organic.

Agricultural products, in order to bear the USDA Organic certification label, must meet certain criteria in order to be considered as ‘100% organic‘. Regarding meat production, organic meat and meat products must come from animals and poultry that have been raised outdoors on natural feed sources. The term ‘range fed cattle’ and ‘free running poultry’ means exactly what the terms imply; i.e. not confined to cages or feed lots, and not fed vitamin or antibiotic enriched foods. Only pure natural food sources are allowed to be fed to these animals. Synthetic chemical additives such as growth enhancing hormones are also forbidden in organically grown animals.

Organic food products labeled as “100% Organic” by the USDA, must only contain organically produced ingredients. Another label, “95% Organic”, still allows the UDSA logo to be displayed, as most of the NOP’s organic requirements have been met. If a food product is noted to be “made with organic ingredients”, at least 70% of the product’s composition must come from organic sources. The UDSA Organic logo cannot be displayed on this food category, however.

Organic labeling is also becoming noted on soaps, shampoos and cosmetics, with the products ingredients clearly noted. Again, in order to be considered as coming from organic sources, the product must be at lest in the 70% category to be considered as “made from organic ingredients”.

Since the year 2000, more attention has been given to the subject of “green” or organic food and cosmetic production. European Union countries are still far ahead in their attention to this subject, and EU member governments even offer “green incentives” to farmers and food producers to meet strict organic standards. The benefit of this way of “green thinking” is obvious to everyone who is concerned about their overall health and well being.