Spend even a few minutes in a grocery store and it is easy to get lost in the whirl of colorful packaging and persuasive advertisements. Figuring out what is grown, raised or produced in an environmentally friendly way can be difficult. Here we decode and provide some insight on food labeling.
U.S. Government Labeling
Food labeling in the United States is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These are common marks granted for use by these agencies. For precise measurements associated with each label, please access the organic labeling information on the USDA website.
<--- All ingredients in the product are organic.
This symbol is associated with three different standards.--->
USDA Organic:The product is made of at least 95% organic material.
Made with Organic Ingredients: A product that has many ingredients, like bread or soup, having at least 70% organic ingredients.
Made with Specified Organic Ingredients:A product that has many ingredients, like bread or soup, with less than 70% organic ingredients.
<--- Poultry, such as chicken or turkey, that was raised in an enclosed area with unlimited access to food, fresh water and the outdoors. The outdoor area cannot be fenced in or covered with netting.
Meat, poultry, or eggs with a USDA “natural” label must be processed with little artificial ingredients. Artificial ingredients are colors or flavors that do not occur naturally in the product.--->
<--- Animals that consume mainly grass from a pasture are labeled grass-fed.
The certification of food products is heavily dependent upon meeting USDA and FDA standards. However, there are additional certifications that can be useful to the consumer. These include for example Fair Trade Labeling (FLO), Food Alliance Certification, Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), Protected Harvest Certification, Rainforest Alliance Certification and USDA Organic Certification. For a more extensive list of food product certifications, try Ecolabel Index. Additional independent (non-government) food labels which are generally considered reliable include.
<--- Coffee that is grown beneath shady trees to create a habitat for birds.
Refers to meat, eggs, and poultry that were raised in an environment with sufficient water, food, and space to roam around, as well as within standards for humane care, such as not trimming the beaks of chickens.--->
<--- Requires food such as produce, peanuts, beef, pork, chicken, lamb, and goat to indicate which country they were grown or raised in if outside of the United States. This labeling was created for those concerned with food production methods in other countries.
Product was raised or grown without chemicals.--->
<--- Dolphins were kept free from harm during fishing trips for tuna and fish products.
Farmers receive fair pay and treatment and that their product can be exposed to the international market. In the USA this label is often found on coffee, tea, herbs, cocoa, chocolate, bananas, sugar, rice, vanilla, flowers, and honey. --->
<--- Certifies safe and equal pay for workers and humane treatment of animals
The label is often found on seafood. It confirms that the seafood that was caught using environmentally safe fishing practices.--->
<--- Crops have been grown sustainably and workers were treated justly. It can be found on coffee, tea, cocoa, and bananas. Products with this certification strive to preserve wildlife, maintain clean water resources, build strong relationships with communities, protect soil, and have sound waste management.
Farms, vineyards, municipal park systems, and corporate and university campuses that are safe environments for salmon to be raised in. --->