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Organic Labelling and Marketing

Labeling requirements of a product is based upon the percentage of organic ingredients contained in a product.  Organic labeling is given to such products that contain at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients.  Products meeting the requirements of “100 percent organic” and “organic” may display these terms and the percentage of organic content on their principal display panel.  However, agricultural products labeled as “100 percent organic” and “organic” cannot be produced by using excluded methods, sewage sludge, or ionizing radiation.

It is to be noted that the Organic Foods Production Act (“OFPA”) and the National Organic program (“NOP”) assures consumers that the organic agricultural they purchased, produced, processed and certified are consistent with the national organic standards.  Moreover, the labeling requirements of the NOP apply to raw, fresh, and processed products that contain organic agricultural ingredients.  Agricultural products that are sold, labeled, or represented as organic must be produced and processed in accordance with the NOP standards.

Generally, organic agricultural products must be certified with the United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA) except for operations whose gross income from organic sales is less than $5000.  It is to be noted that the USDA seal or the mark of the involved certifying agents may appear on product packages and in advertisements.

However, processed products that contain at least 70% organic ingredients can use the phrase “made with organic ingredients” and list up to three of the organic ingredients and or food groups on the principal display panel.  For example, soup made with at least 70% organic ingredients and only organic vegetables may be labeled either “soup made with organic peas, potatoes, and carrots” or “soup made with organic vegetables”.  In any case, processed products labeled made with organic ingredients cannot be produced using excluded methods, sewage sludge, or ionizing radiation.

The percentage of organic content and the certifying agent seal or mark may be used on the principal display panel.  However, the USDA seal cannot be used anywhere else on the package.

The name and address of the certifying agent of the final product must be displayed on the information panel.  However, there are no restrictions to use other truthful labeling claims such as “no drugs or other growth hormones used”, “free range” or “sustainably harvested.”

It is to be noted that a person who knowingly sells or labels a product as an organic product which is not produced and handled in accordance with the NOP’s regulation is liable for a penalty of $11,000.


Inside Organic Labelling and Marketing