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Food Labeling Guide

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Organics, Free-Range, and More

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.

100 Percent Organic Logo<--- All ingredients in the product are organic.

USDA Organic LogoThis 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.

Free Range Logo<--- 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.

Natural Food LogoMeat, 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.--->

Grass Fed Logo<--- Animals that consume mainly grass from a pasture are labeled grass-fed.






Additional Labels

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 CertificationMarine Stewardship Council (MSC)Protected Harvest CertificationRainforest 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.

Bird Friendly Logo<--- Coffee that is grown beneath shady trees to create a habitat for birds. 

Certified Humane LogoRefers 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.--->



Country of Orgin Label Logo<--- 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.


Demeter Certified Biodynamic LogoProduct was raised or grown without chemicals.--->


Dolphin Safe Logo<--- Dolphins were kept free from harm during fishing trips for tuna and fish products. 




Fair Trade Certified LogoFarmers 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. --->

Food Alliance Certified Logo<--- Certifies safe and equal pay for workers and humane treatment of animals



Marine Stewardship Council LogoThe label is often found on seafood. It confirms that the seafood that was caught using environmentally safe fishing practices.--->

Rainforest Alliance Certified Logo<--- 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.


Salmon Safe LogoFarms, vineyards, municipal park systems, and corporate and university campuses that are safe environments for salmon to be raised in. --->

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