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Look for the 100% Organic Label as USDA Launches Program Today
(from Ocober 21, 2002)

As the new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic label appears on grocery shelves and farm stands today, look for products with the 100 percent organic label. Advocates celebrate the implementation of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 today, after years of hammering out the standard behind the new label, which is required on virtually all products that carry an organic claim.

Producers say that many products will not have the labels for many months to come as they get phased in. Products bearing the new USDA organic label meet the requirements of the Final National Organic Program Rule, the national standards for the production, handling and processing of organically grown food in the United States. The standard includes three classes of organic processed food which may be displayed on the front of products: "100% organic," "organic" (which must contain no less than 95% pure organically grown and up to 5% non-organically grown, and in some cases synthetic, ingredients), and "made with organic ingredients" (which requires 70 percent organic ingredients). All products that contain a smaller percentage of organic ingredients can list the organic ingredients on the back panel of the product, but may not use the word organic on the front panel.

Advocates will continue to debate issues critical to the definition of organic and, in fact, the materials allowed in organic production, processing and handling may change as groups petition to allow or disallow specific inputs. Under the USDA rule, only the 100% organic label on the front panel of processed products or displayed by raw agricultural commodities ensures consumers that synthetic materials have not been used in the production, processing or handling of the food they are buying.

Considered by many to be a work in progress, many groups and individuals including Beyond Pesticides, are continuously working to ensure that the standard includes only the safest, purest, and best organic food produced today. Pundits agree that this, the first national organic label, will help to assert organic food as mainstream.

More information can be found at our Organic Food Program Page of the Beyond Pesticides website.